Journalism is the discipline of gathering, writing and reporting news, and broadly it includes the process of editing and presenting the news articles. Journalism applies to various media, but is not limited to newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. While under pressure to be the first to publish its stories, each news media organization adheres to its own standards of accuracy, quality, and style — usually editing and proofreading its reports prior to publication. Many news organizations claim proud traditions of holding government officials and institutions accountable to the public, while media critics have raised questions on the accountability of the press. The word journalism is taken from the French journal which in turn comes from the Latin diurnal or daily. The Acta Diurna, a handwritten bulletin, was put up daily in the Forum, the main public square in ancient Rome, and was the world's first newspaper.
- The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be restrained in this commonwealth.
- You go all over America and you see small papers that do really good jobs in their communities of reporting. The modern New York Times, the modern Washington Post, the modern Wall Street Journal are better papers than they were at the time of Watergate in most respects. But if you look at the rest of the field, ... real news based on the best obtainable version of the truth was becoming less and less a commodity, less and less a real part of our journalistic institutions.
- In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the public. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
- Never forget that if you don't hit a newspaper reader between the eyes with your first sentence, there is no need of writing a second one.
- Arthur Brisbane (c. 1900) quoted in Carlson, Oliver (1937). Brisbane: A Candid Biography. pp. Chapter 5.
- Journalism may not dare too much. It can be gently humorous and ironic, very lightly touched by idiosyncrasy, but it must not repel readers by digging too deeply. This is especially true of its approach to language: the conventions are not questioned.
- Anthony Burgess, A Mouthful of Air: Language and Languages, Especially English (1992).
- A would-be satirist, a hired buffoon,
A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon,
Condemn'd to drudge, the meanest of the mean,
And furbish falsehoods for a magazine.
- Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809), line 975.
- A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up.
- Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, A History (1837), Part I, Book VI, Chapter 5.
- Great is journalism. Is not every able editor a ruler of the world, being the persuader of it?
- Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, A History (1837), Part II, Book I, Chapter 4.
- Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact, - very momentous to us in these times.
- Thomas Carlyle (1859). On Heroes, Hero-worship, and the Heroic in History: Six Lectures: Reported. Wiley & Halsted. pp. 147, Lect. V: "The Hero as Man of Letters".
- Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.
- G. K. Chesterton, "On the Cryptic and the Elliptic", All Things Considered (1908)
- It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, "Mr Wilkinson Still Safe," or "Mr Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet." They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.
- The duty of journalists is to tell the truth. Journalism means you go back to the actual facts, you look at the documents, you discover what the record is, and you report it that way.
- I suppose, in the end, we journalists try - or should try - to be the first impartial witnesses of history. If we have any reason for our existence, the least must be our ability to report history as it happens so that no one can say: 'We didn't know - no one told us.'
- Today's serious nonfiction writer is important to society because from a solid background of social sciences, combined with the journalistic skills of a reporter, one moves beyond the reporter function to the front edge of our emerging society.
- When journalese was at its rifest the Ministry of Health was established - possibly a coincidence.
- Grassroots journalism is part of the wider phenomenon of citizen-generated media - of a global conversation that is growing in strength, complexity, and power. When people can express themselves, they will. When they can do so with powerful yet inexpensive tools, they take to the new-media realm quickly. When they can reach a potentially global audience, they literally can change the world.
- The national religion in the United States is worship of all things military. And journalists are its high priests.
- Glenn Greenwald (1967), interview with Democracy Now! (November 14, 2012). Glenn Greenwald: While Petraeus Had Affair with Biographer, Corporate Media Had Affair with Petraeus. Retrieved on 2012-11-15.
- Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.
- One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
- Robert H. Jackson (1943). West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. Supreme Court of the United States. pp. 319 U.S. 624, 638.
- They lied about it! The enemy boils the ocean, cooks the sixth fleet and every man, woman and child within fifty miles of a shoreline - you could expect some coverage. What did they report? Minor soil erosion in the Florida Keys. They boiled the ocean, woman!
- Arthur M. Jolly in the play After It's All Over, Original Works Press (2009).
- What people outside do not appreciate is that a newspaper is like a soufflé, prepared in a hurry for immediate consumption. This of course is why whenever you read a newspaper account of some event of which you have personal knowledge it is nearly always inadequate or inaccurate. Journalists are as aware as anyone of this defect; it is simply that if the information is to reach as many readers as possible, something less than perfection has often to be accepted.
- My problem, and our problem — I think this is a view that's pretty widely shared in the news business — is, you know, we, and I don't just mean The Times, are too ready to publish the blandest of quotes, or, sometimes, the idlest of gossip and innuendo, behind a cover of anonymity. I think it cheapens the currency of source protection.
- Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment.
- The Web sites of interest groups generally advance the cause of journalganda, in that everything is presented through the filter of the interest group. […] It is an odd, unreal world but very important because it's where partisans can go to have their thoughts re-enforced. There's nothing like journalganda to make you feel absolutely certain you are correct, no matter what your position. […] Real journalism can always be identified by the way it makes normal people sometimes feel very uncomfortable about the world.
- Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and "the public's right to know"; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.
- In our society, the journalist ranks with the philantropist as a person who has something extremely valuable to dispense (his currency is the strangely intoxicating substance called publicity), and who is consequently treated with a deference quite out of proportion to his merits as a person. There are very few people in this country who do not regard with rapture the prospect of being written about or interviewed on a radio or television program.
- Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer (1990). New York: Knopf, p. 58.
- I have come to think […] the character called "I" in a work of journalism […] is unlike all the journalist's other characters in that he forms the exception to the rule that nothing may be invented: the "I" character in journalism is almost pure invention. Unlike the "I" of autobiography, who is meant to be seen as a representation of the writer, the "I" of journalism is connected to the writer only in a tenuous way—the way, say, that Superman is connected to Clark Kent. The journalistic "I" is an overreliable narrator, a functionary to whom crucial tasks of narration and argument and tone have been entrusted, an ad hoc creation, like the chorus of Greek tragedy. He is an emblematic figure, an embodiment of the idea of the dispassionate observer of life. Nevertheless, readers who readily accept the idea that the narrator in a work of fiction is not the same person as the author of the book will stubbornly resist the idea of the invented "I" of journalism; and even among journalists, there are those who have trouble sorting themselves out from the Supermen of their texts.
- Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer (1990). New York: Knopf, pp. 159–160.
- The moral ambiguity of journalism lies not in its texts but in the relationships out of which they arise—relationships that are invariably and inescapably lopsided. The "good" characters in a piece of journalism are no less a product of the writer's unholy power over another person than are the "bad" ones.[…] The fact that the subject may be trying to manipulate the journalist—and none but the most otherworldly of subjects is above at least some manipulativeness—does not offset the journalist's own sins against the libertarian spirit.[…] There is an infinite variety of ways in which journalists struggle with the moral impasse[…]. The wisest know that the best they can do […] is still not good enough. The not so wise, in their accustomed manner, choose to believe there is no problem and that they have solved it.
- Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer (1990). New York: Knopf, pp. 162-163. (The last sentence is the last sentence of the book.)
- The newspapers were beginning to get on to Jaycie now. They had ignored her at first. Put things down to anyone and everything else. After all, it was a bit awkward for them having to do with a woman who was beautiful but apparently had no sex life; they didn’t know what to try and smear her with.
- Naomi Mitchison, “Mary and Joe” in Harry Harrison (ed.) Nova 1, p. 163.
- Journalists who make mistakes get sued for libel; historians who make mistakes get to publish a revised edition.
- Bill Moyers, "The Big Story", speech to the Texas State Historical Association, 7 March 1997, Moyers on Democracy (2008), p. 131.
- The freedom of speech and of the press, which are secured by the First Amendment against abridgment by the United States, are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are secured to all persons by the Fourteenth Amendment against abridgment by a state. The safeguarding of these rights to the ends that men may speak as they think on matters vital to them and that falsehoods may be exposed through the processes of education and discussion is essential to free government. Those who won our independence had confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning and communication of ideas to discover and spread political and economic truth.
- In a world where everyone is a publisher, no one is an editor and that is the danger we face today.
- Scott Pelley in a speech at Quinnipiac University on 10 May 2013. CBS News anchor Scott Pelley: 'We're Getting the Big Stories Wrong Over and Over Again'.
- Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job: who push back screens, peer behind façades, lift rocks. Opprobrium from on high is their badge of honour.
- Controversy? You can't be any kind of reporter worthy of the name and avoid controversy completely. You can't be a good reporter and not be fairly regularly involved in some kind of controversy. And I don't think you can be a great reporter and avoid controversy very often, because one of the roles a good journalist plays is to tell the tough truths as well as the easy truths. And the tough truths will lead you to controversy, and even a search for the tough truths will cost you something. Please don't make this play or read as any complaint, it's trying to explain this goes with the territory if you're a journalist of integrity. That if you start out a journalist or if you reach a point in journalism where you say, "Listen, I'm just not going not touch anything that could possibly be controversial," then you ought to get out.
- Dan Rather, interview in Staff (May 5, 2001). "Dan Rather Interview: Broadcast Journalist, On the Frontlines of Breaking News". Academy of Achievement. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
- What a monstrous thing that a University should teach journalism! I thought that was only done at Oxford. This respect for the filthy multitude is ruining civilisation.
- Bertrand Russell, in a letter to Lucy Martin Donnely (July 6, 1902).
- But I'll report it
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles.
- Report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.
- I don't want to be part of the story. I want to be an anonymous, quiet onlooker who tries to work out what the hell is happening - its not easy - and then tells other people about it. I don't like being a figure in the thing.
- John Simpson, interview in Barnes, Nicky (October 12, 2007). "Interview: John Simpson - John Simpson is one of the most respected journalists in the world. On a visit to Norwich he talked about his book Not Quite World's End, whether he will ever think of retiring and how life looks now he is the father - at 63 - of a new baby". BBC Norfolk (BBC). Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
- The Press is at once the eye and the ear and the tongue of the people. It is the visible speech, if not the voice, of the democracy. It is the phonograph of the world.
- William Thomas Stead (May 1886) "Government by Journalism", Contemporary Review.
- Journalism (definition): The art, or science, of representing life as a series of clichés.
- I've always had standards about writing well. There is art in this business. There is potentially great art.
- The art of a news reporter is to learn how to lull a victim, because all good reporters are confidence tricksters in embryo.
- Derek Tangye, British author, Chapter VII, The Way to Minack (1968).
- I do not think that journalism is a dying art. If anything, I believe it is more important than ever, and journalists worldwide are adapting to our modus operandi - to make public officials accountable to the people. The role of the journalist is indispensable, and as reviled as reporters may intermittently be, they are still highly respected when the pursue the truth and obtain positive results. It is my hope that future journalists will adhere to the true principles of the profession and understand that they play a vital role in helping to keep democracy and the exchange of free ideas alive at home and abroad.
- So much for Objective Journalism. Don't bother to look for it here—not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.
- "Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer? Agnew was right. The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits— a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage."
- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas p. 200 (1971)
- Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
- I mean to work for 60 Minutes, and be able to go any place in the world, do any story, have enough time on the air, et cetera, there is simply no job in journalism like it. At the beginning, it was a dream. Even now, at the age of 84, I work with people who are half my age or less, and it is the draw of the story. If there is a good story going, why not be there?
- Mike Wallace, interview in Staff (June 8, 2002). "Mike Wallace Interview: CBS News Correspondent, 60 Minutes of Truth". Academy of Achievement. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
- News is what a chap who doesn't care much about anything wants to read. And it's only news until he's read it. After that it's dead.
- It's a truism that denials never quite catch up with charges. Honest journalists who may have mistakenly printed false information know that the most prominent retraction never quite undoes the damage done by the original publication.
- There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. By carefully chronicling the current events of contemporary life, it shows us of what very little importance such events really are. By invariably discussing the unnecessary, it makes us understand what things are requisite for culture, and what are not.
- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891), Part II
- You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! the
But, seeing what
the man will do
no occasion to.
- Humbert Wolfe, "Over the Fire", in The Uncelestial City (1930).
- If somebody came from Mars to America and went around for months or years, and then you asked them who has the best jobs, they would say the journalists, because the journalists get to make momentary entries into people's lives when they are interesting, and get out when they cease to be interesting.
- Bob Woodward, interview in Bradlee, Ben (May 1, 2003). "Bob Woodward Interview: Investigative Reporter, Journalist for Truth". Academy of Achievement: pp. Page 7 of 9. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 407-08.
- I would * * * earnestly advise them for their good to order this paper to be punctually served up, and to be looked upon as a part of the tea equipage.
- Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 10.
- They consume a considerable quantity of our paper manufacture, employ our artisans in printing, and find business for great numbers of indigent persons.
- Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 367.
- Advertisements are of great use to the vulgar. First of all, as they are instruments of ambition. A man that is by no means big enough for the Gazette, may easily creep into the advertisements; by which means we often see an apothecary in the same paper of news with a plenipotentiary, or a running footman with an ambassador.
- Joseph Addison, Tatler, No. 224.
- The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out a proper method to catch the reader's eye; without which a good thing may pass over unobserved, or be lost among commissions of bankrupt.
- Joseph Addison, Tatler, No. 224.
- Ask how to live? Write, write, write, anything;
The world's a fine believing world, write news.
- Beaumont and Fletcher, Wit without Money, Act II.
- [The opposition Press] which is in the hands of malecontents who have failed in their career.
- Otto von Bismarck, to a deputation from Rügen to the King (Nov. 10, 1862).
- Hear, land o' cakes, and brither Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat's;
If there's a hole in a' your coats,
* I rede you tent it:
A chiel's amang you taking notes,
* And, faith, he'll prent it.
- Robert Burns, On Capt. Grose's Peregrinations Through Scotland.
- The editor sat in his sanctum, his countenance furrowed with care,
His mind at the bottom of business, his feet at the top of a chair,
His chair-arm an elbow supporting, his right hand upholding his head,
His eyes on his dusty old table, with different documents spread.
- Will Carleton, Farm Ballads, The Editor's Guests.
- Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporter's gallery yonder, there sat a fourth estate more important far than they all.
- Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-Worship. Lecture V. Burke is credited with having invented the term, but it does not appear in his published works. The "three estates of the realm" are the Lords Spiritual, The Lords Temporal, and the Commons. David Lindslay—Ane pleasant satyre of the Three Estatis. (1535). Rabelais—in Pantagruel, 4–48 describes a monk, a falconer, a lawyer, and a husbandman called the "four estates of the island." (Les quatre estatz de l'isle).
- A parliament speaking through reporters to Buncombe and the Twenty-seven millions, mostly fools.
- Thomas Carlyle, Latter Day Pamphlets. No, VI. Parliaments.
- Get your facts first, and then you can distort 'em as much as you please.
- Mark Twain, Interview with Kipling, In From Sea to Sea, Epistle 37.
- Only a newspaper! Quick read, quick lost,
Who sums the treasure that it carries hence?
Torn, trampled under feet, who counts thy cost,
- Mary Clemmer, The Journalist, Stanza 9.
- To serve thy generation, this thy fate:
"Written in water," swiftly fades thy name;
But he who loves his kind does, first and late,
A work too great for fame.
- Mary Clemmer, The Journalist. Last Stanza.
- I believe it has been said that one copy of the Times contains more useful information than the whole of the historical works of Thucydides.
- Richard Cobden, speech at the Manchester Athenæum, Dec. 27, 1850. See The Times, Dec. 30, 1830, p. 7. Quoted in Morley's Life of Cobden. Note, Volume II, p. 429. Also reference to same, p. 428.
- Did Charity prevail, the press would prove
A vehicle of virtue, truth, and love.
- William Cowper, Charity, line 624.
- How shall I speak thee, or thy power address,
Thou God of our idolatry, the Press.
* * * * *
Like Eden's dead probationary tree,
Knowledge of good and evil is from thee.
- William Cowper, Progress of Error, line 452.
- He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter'd boots, strapp'd waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumbering at his back.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book IV, line 5.
- When found, make a note of.
- Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son, Chapter 15.
- Miscellanists are the most popular writers among every people; for it is they who form a communication between the learned and the unlearned, and, as it were, throw a bridge between those two great divisions of the public.
- Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius, Miscellanists.
- None of our political writers … take notice of any more than three estates, namely, Kings, Lords and Commons … passing by in silence that very large and powerful body which form the fourth estate in the community … the Mob.
- Henry Fielding, Covent Garden Journal (June 13, 1752).
- Caused by a dearth of scandal should the vapors
Distress our fair ones—let them read the papers.
- David Garrick, Prologue to Sheridan's School for Scandal.
- The liberty of the press is the palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights of an Englishman.
- Junius, Dedication to Letters.
- The highest reach of a news-writer is an empty Reasoning on Policy, and vain Conjectures on the public Management.
- Jean de La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age (1688), Chapter I.
- The News-writer lies down at Night in great Tranquillity, upon a piece of News which corrupts before Morning, and which he is obliged to throw away as soon as he awakes.
- Jean de La Bruyère, The Characters or Manners of the Present Age (1688), Chapter I.
- Tout faiseur de journaux doit tribut au Malin.
- Every newspaper editor owes tribute to the devil.
- Jean de La Fontaine, Lettre à Simon de Troyes (1686).
- Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment.
- Charles Lamb, Essays of Elia, Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading.
- Behold the whole huge earth sent to me hebdomadally in a brown paper wrapper.
- James Russell Lowell, Biglow Papers, Series I. No. 6.
- I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.
- The penny-papers of New York do more to govern this country than the White House at Washington.
- We live under a government of men and morning newspapers.
- The press is like the air, a chartered libertine.
- William Pitt, to Lord Grenville (About 1757).
- The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease.
- Alexander Pope, Epistles of Horace, Epistle I, Book II, line 108.
- Cela est escrit. Il est vray.
- The thing is written. It is true.
- François Rabelais, Pantagruel.
- Can it be maintained that a person of any education can learn anything worth knowing from a penny paper? It may be said that people may learn what is said in Parliament. Well, will that contribute to their education?
- Salisbury (Lord Robert Cecil), Speeches. House of Commons, 1861. On the Repeal of the Paper Duties.
- The newspapers! Sir, they are the most villanous—licentious—abominable—infernal—not that I ever read them—no—I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic, Act I, scene 1.
- Trade hardly deems the busy day begun
Till his keen eye along the sheet has run;
The blooming daughter throws her needle by,
And reads her schoolmate's marriage with a sigh;
While the grave mother puts her glasses on,
And gives a tear to some old crony gone.
The preacher, too, his Sunday theme lays down
To know what last new folly fills the town;
Lively or sad, life's meanest, mightiest things,
The fate of fighting cocks, or fighting kings.
- Sprague, Curiosity.
- Here shall the Press the People's right maintain,
Unawed by influence and unbribed by gain;
Here Patriot Truth her glorious precepts draw,
Pledged to Religion, Liberty, and Law.
- Joseph Story, Motto of the Salem Register. Adopted 1802. Reported in William W. Story's Life of Joseph Story, Volume I, Chapter VI.
- The thorn in the cushion of the editorial chair.
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Roundabout Papers, The Thorn in the Cushion.
- In America the president reigns for four years, and journalism governs forever and ever.
- Journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones Dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
- When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.
- John B. Bogartto, New York Sun editor. Attributed in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 16th edition, 1992, p. 554. See also w:Man_bites_dog_(journalism)
- I do not care for the big 'ideas' of novelists. Novels are wonderful, of course, but I prefer newspapers.
- Will Cuppy in Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft (eds.), Twentieth Century Authors, New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1942, p.342.
- Experience has shown that newspapers are one of the best means of directing opinion – of quieting feverish movements – of causing the lies and artificial rumours by which the enemies of the State may attempt to carry on their evil designs to vanish. In these public papers, instruction may descend from the Government to the people, or ascend from the people to the Government; the greater the freedom allowed, the more correctly may a judgment be formed upon the course of opinion - with so much the greater certainty will it act.
- Jeremy Bentham — quoted in Andrews, Alexander (1859). The History of British Journalism: From the Foundation of the Newspaper Press in England to the Repeal of the Stamp Act in 1855, with Sketches of Press Celebrities. R. Bentley. pp. Volume II, Page 179.
- Journalism is the first rough draft of history.
- Originally stated in slightly different forms “News/The press [is the] … first rough draft of history”, this form dates at least to the 1940s, and was most likely popularized by Alan Barth, as an editorial writer for the Washington Post in the 1940s. The sentiment appears several times in the editorial pages of the Post in that era, with the earliest citation from Barth being 1943:
- News is only the first rough draft of history.
- Subsequent uses in the Post include:
- Newspapers, after all, are the first drafts of history, or pretend they are.
- Unsigned "Editor's Note" in The Washington Post (16 October 1944)
- Similar sentiment date to the first decade of the 1900s, including:
- It is possible that a first rough draft of the History, down to 413, may have been sketched by Thucydides before 405.
- The newspapers are making morning after morning the rough draft of history. Later, the historian will come, take down the old files, and transform the crude but sincere and accurate annals of editors and reporters into history, into literature. The modern school must study the daily newspaper.
- A reporter is a young man who blocks out the first draft of history each day on a rheumatic typewriter.
- This quote is generally incorrectly credited to Philip L. Graham, in an address to Newsweek correspondents in London (1963):
- So let us today drudge on about our inescapably impossible task of providing every week a first rough draft of history that will never be completed about a world we can never really understand.
- While this may have popularized the quote, earlier statements were given by others (as above), and even by Graham himself, including:
- The inescapable hurry of the press inevitably means a certain degree of superficiality. It is neither within our power nor our province to be ultimately profound. We write 365 days a year the first rough draft of history, and that is a very great task.
- Address to the American Society for Public Administration (8 March 1953)
- “Who Said It First? Journalism is the 'first rough draft of history.’” by Jack Shafer, Slate (30 August 2010)
- “First draft of history” (journalism), November 23, 2009, Barry Popik
- Cited by Babette Hogan in comments to Shafer 2010
- Newspapers: “the rough draft of history”, by Tony Pettinato, October 4th, 2010
- Cited by Garson O'Toole of Quote Investigator, citing the database GenealogyBank, in comments to Shafer 2010
- Personal History (1997) by Katharine Graham
- Published in “Public Administration and the Press”, Philip L. Graham, Public Administration Review, Volume 13, No. 2 (Spring, 1953), pp. 87–88
- Thomas, Helen (2000). Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times. Simon and Schuster. p. 383. ISBN 0684845687.
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