The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Media,
Journalism, Newspapers, etc.

Our democracy needs a robust press to hold our leaders accountable and cover the important issues facing our communities. The First Amendment belongs to all of us.

We can't quite decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder. ~The Houghton Line, 1965

On many a road the only vehicle you may meet, of a Sunday, is the newsman's cart, hurrying from hamlet to hamlet with his huge bundles of gaudily covered Sunday newspapers — undertaking to purvey all that the human mind need know or the human soul crave, to that day's date. ~Frederic Jesup Stimson, Jethro Bacon, Of Sandwich, 1902

News is history shot on the wing. ~Gene Fowler, Skyline: A Reporter's Reminiscence of the 1920s, 1961

The real story of any day is of what human ingenuity accomplished while a few sociopaths were distracting the media. ~Robert Brault,

Hail! mighty Power! that on the lucid page
Unfolds the thought rich with instruction sage,
That opens the gates of Knowledge to mankind,
And drives away the darkness of the mind.
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To the Press"

THE PRESS MUST BE FREE. It has always been so, and much evil has been corrected by it.— If Government finds itself annoyed by it, let it examine its own conduct, and it will find the cause,— let it amend it, and it will find the remedy. ~Thomas Erskine, Thomas Paine libel trial, England, 1792

Exaggeration of every kind is as essential to journalism as it is to the dramatic art; for the object of journalism is to make events go as far as possible. Thus it is that all journalists are, in the very nature of their calling, alarmists; and this is their way of giving interest to what they write. Herein they are like little dogs; if anything stirs, they immediately set up a shrill bark. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "On Some Forms of Literature," The Art of Literature: A Series of Essays, translated from German by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891

Such histories as these do, in reality, very much resemble a newspaper, which consists of just the same number of words, whether there be any news in it or not... ~Henry Fielding, 1749

      "Life" today, for most of us, most of the time, is a mediated existence. Our experiences are vicarious, or virtual. Most of what we know comes from media, not personal experience...
      Think about it. How many waking hours did you spend yesterday totally isolated from all media? That means no TV, radio, music CDs or tapes, computer screens, print, or advertising signs. Were there any? If you fall asleep listening to the radio or TV, the media invade even more than your waking hours. ~Nicholas Johnson, "Media Literacy," 1997

In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. ~Oscar Wilde, 1891

Prevention is better than cure, but it does not get its name in the papers so often. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The problem you had wished to propose to me was one which I could not have solved; for I know nothing of the facts. I read no newspaper now but Ritchie's, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper. I feel a much greater interest in knowing what passed two or three thousand years ago, than in what is now passing. ~Thomas Jefferson, 1819

Mr. Webster says we live under a government of laws. He was never more mistaken... We live under a government of men — and morning newspapers. ~Wendell Phillips, "Public Opinion," 1852

By the absence of an irreverent press, Europe for a thousand years has existed merely for the advantage of half a dozen seventh-rate families called Monarchs, and some hundreds of riffraff sarcastically called Nobles. Our papers have one peculiarity — it is American — it exists nowhere else — their irreverence. May they never lose and never modify it. They are irreverent toward pretty much everything, but where they laugh one good king to death, they laugh a thousand cruel and infamous shams and superstitions into the grave, and the account is squared. Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. ~Mark Twain

...the devil's aversion to holy water is a light matter compared with a despot's dread of a newspaper that laughs. ~Mark Twain, 1888

The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. ~Thomas Jefferson, 1787  [After becoming president, his view of newspapers soured, but he still believed in a free press. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

For wheresoe'er thy light resplendent streams,
Lo! Ignorance retreats before thy beams,
Pale Superstition trembles with dismay,
Freedom expands, and Tyranny gives way.
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To the Press"

Now that is the way to write — peppery and to the point. Mush-and-milk journalism gives me the fan-tods. ~Mark Twain

You don't realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown. ~Robert Brault,

If it's called the USA Today, why is all the news from yesterday? BAM. Busted! ~Stephen Colbert, 2009

"Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead," said Poor Richard, but to-day the remaining one would have to burn up his letters and keep away from the reporters. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. ~Author unknown

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad... Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three... We are dominated by Journalism. ~Oscar Wilde, 1891

The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesmanlike habits, supplies their demands. ~Oscar Wilde, 1891

[I]t is never pleasant to be reading things that are not agreeable news, but I would say that it is an invaluable arm of the presidency, as a check really on what is going on in the administration, and more things come to my attention that cause me concern or give me information. So I would think that Mr. Khrushchev operating a totalitarian system, which has many advantages as far as being able to move in secret, and all the rest — there is a terrific disadvantage not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily, to an administration, even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press. ~John F. Kennedy, interview with NBC, December 1962  #freepress

I warn't in no hurry to git out and buck at civilization again. Now, one of the worst things about civilization is, that anybody that gits a letter with trouble in it comes and tells you all about it and makes you feel bad, and the newspapers fetches you the troubles of everybody all over the world, and keeps you down-hearted and dismal 'most all the time, and it's such a heavy load for a person. I hate them newspapers; and I hate letters; and if I had my way I wouldn't allow nobody to load his troubles onto other folks he ain't acquainted with, on t'other side of the world, that way. ~Mark Twain

EDITOR... A person employed on a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed. ~Elbert Hubbard, 1914

I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right and be good so that God will not make me one. ~Mark Twain, 1870

Newspapers widen the sphere of our sympathies. They make their readers enter into the joys and sorrows of thousands of whom they would else know nothing, and for whom they would otherwise care nothing. But still, journalism is but in the initial stage of its development. As at present conducted, the world is not fairly represented by its newspapers. Life is something better than journals make it out to be. They are too much the records of the crimes that curse, and the casualties that afflict it — the contests of litigants, and the strifes of politicians. Of the sweeter amenities of life the newspaper is far too silent. Therefore, newspapers should be read late in the day. To read the journals in the early morning, is to pollute the stream of the day at its source. ~Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904), "Newspapers," Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, 1862

The newspaper is the second-hand in the clock of history; and it is not only made of baser metal than those which point to the minute and the hour, but it seldom goes right. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "On Some Forms of Literature," The Art of Literature: A Series of Essays, translated from German by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891

The mercenaries and parasites of the Press, who prostitute its more than royal power, and dishonor a noble profession, will find it easy to mock at things too wonderful for them to understand; for to them the price of a paragraph is more than the value of sincerity. ~H. P. Blavatsky, 1877

A public man may reasonably esteem it a piece of good fortune to be vigorously attacked in the newspapers. In the first place, it lifts him more prominently into notice. Then, a plausible defence will divide public opinion, while a triumphant vindication will more fully establish him in the popular regards. Even if unable to offer either, the notoriety so acquired will in time soften into a semblance of celebrity, so like its original that it will easily pass for it. Besides, the world is charitable, and will readily forgive old sins in consideration of later virtues. ~Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904), "Suggestions: Public Men," in The Atlantic Monthly, December 1858

During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation. ~Thomas Jefferson, second inaugural address, 1805 March 4th

The hard journalism that covers greed and violence and malevolence — we would almost expect the ink to glimmer red, as does the spilt blood of mankind — but there it is, always staring back at us in cold, fact-black. ~Terri Guillemets

I don't follow current events past the Industrial Revolution. ~Bones, "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole," 2010, written by Hanson, Reichs, Lin, Lopata, and Peterson  [S5, E16, Temperance Brennan]

To the press the electric telegraph is an invention of immense value. Charles Lamb, in one of his papers, remarks that a piece of news, which, when it left Botany Bay was true to the letter, often becomes a lie before it reaches England. It is the advantage of the telegraph that it gives you the news before circumstances have had time to alter it. The press is enabled to lay it fresh before the reader. It comes to him like a steak hot from the gridiron, instead of being cooled and made flavorless by a slow journey from a distant kitchen. A battle is fought three thousand miles away, and we have the news while they are taking the wounded to the hospital. A great orator rises in the British Parliament, and we read his words almost before the cheers of his friends have ceased... Our guest [Samuel F. B. Morse] has annihilated both space and time in the transmission of intelligence. ~William Cullen Bryant, "The Electric Telegraph," speech, 1868

I shall take the liberty this morning of transporting you one hundred years into the future... It is 1982... If you look back to 1882 you will be surprised at the rapidity of human progress... In the progress of events men considered that to keep up with the age, they must have their news at least once a week. Then came the need of a daily paper. Then the system was perfected for placing a bulletin on each man's counter three times a day and five times on Sunday. Then the telephone was used wholly to dispense with the printing press. Messages were directed to flash simultaneously once an hour to every village in the land. But even this system did not satisfy the needs of enlightenment. An hour to us seemed as long as six months to the Puritans of the seventeenth century. News must be instantaneous. Whatever occurred must be sent as by a nerve thrill through all the world. ~Edward Payson Powell (1833–1915), "New Year in 1982," Liberty and Life: Discourses by E. P. Powell, 1889  [a little altered —tg]

POET.  That's what I call a goodly bit of news...
FOOL.  'T was but a ruse
To get you into an argument.
~Madison Julius Cawein (1865–1914), "The Poet, the Fool, and the Faeries"

What's the news? what's the news? ~William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, c.1607  [IV, 6, Menenius Agrippa]

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