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quotations about the news media

When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.


The best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FOX interview, Sep. 23, 2003

Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.

G.K. CHESTERTON, All Things Considered

The proper presentation of the news bears about the same relation to the whole field of happenings that a painting does to a photograph. The photograph might give the more accurate presentation of details, but in doing so it might sacrifice the opportunity the more clearly to delineate character.

CALVIN COOLIDGE, speech, Jan. 17, 1925

Bad news drives out good news. The irrational is more controversial than the rational. Concurrence can no longer compete with dissent. One minute of Eldridge Cleaver is worth ten minutes of Roy Wilkins. The labor crises settled at the negotiating table is nothing compared to the confrontation that results in a strike ... normality has become the nemesis of network news.

SPIRO AGNEW, speech the Midwest Republican Regional Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 13, 1969

Only a newspaper! Quick read, quick lost, Who sums the treasure that it carries hence? Torn, trampled under feet, who counts thy cost, Star-eyed intelligence?


Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.

BEN HECHT, quoted in Jewish Wit and Wisdom

Today’s journalism is obsessed with the kinds of things that tend to preoccupy thirteen-year-old boys: sports, sex, crime, and narcissism.

STEVEN STARK, Atlantic Monthly, Sep. 1994

News is often dispersed as thoughtlessly and effectively as that pollen which the bees carry off (having no idea how powdery they are) when they are buzzing in search of their particular nectar.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, The Story of the Malakand Field Force

I am not asking for government censorship or any other kind of censorship. I am asking whether a kind of censorship already exists when the news that forty million Americans receive each night is determined by a handful of men responsible only to their corporate employers and filtered through a handful of commentators who admit to their own set of biases.

SPIRO AGNEW, speech the Midwest Republican Regional Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 13, 1969

Seminal changes in the news media over the past three decades have also helped create a more volatile political arena. During my last year in office, I joined with Ted Turner to celebrate the birth of CNN, and this new network provided global news coverage that was accurate, comprehensive, and objective--standards that were later partially sacrificed to meet intense competition from other channels. To gain viewers, the twenty-four-hour news channels have now come to rely on reporting that often dramatizes or exaggerates each reported rumor or fact. In addition, the more radical presentations of information or commentary have proven to be most popular, so radio and television programs, like political alignments, have tended toward extremes. An unfortunate result of the need for constant reporting--especially on Internet news outlets--has been the demise of hundreds of newspapers that have proved unable to compete, leaving major cities and towns with one merged journal, or, in some cases, none at all. The free and vigorous presentation of different opinion has been sacrificed to polarized uniformity.

JIMMY CARTER, White House Diary

A raised eyebrow, an inflection of the voice, a caustic remark dropped in the middle of a broadcast can raise doubts in a million minds about the veracity of a public official or the wisdom of a governmental policy.

SPIRO AGNEW, speech the Midwest Republican Regional Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov. 13, 1969

Wars might come and go, but the seven o'clock news lives forever.

LEWIS H. LAPHAM, Money and Class in America

Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.



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