Sometimes etchings on tables and doors and walls lead to inspiration. Below is a list of inspiring quotes, sayings, poems, etc., that may provide a little lift in your step. (*Graffiti photo is from the Louis Lunch deli in New Haven, Conn.; photo by Michael Stern)

Hear! Hear!

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

“There is so much to criticize about the press, but not before recognizing a
ringing truth: the best of the American press is an extraordinary daily example of industry, honesty, conscience and courage, driven by a desire to inform and interest readers.” — Ben Bradlee, former executive editor, The Washington Post, writing in “A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures”

“The basis of our government 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.”
— Thomas Jefferson, drafter of Declaration of Independence, third President of United States, 1743-1826

“Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”
— Henry Anatole Grunwald, former editor in chief, Time Inc., 1922-2005

Most journalism trades in stories so dull and familiar that it makes the world smaller and stupider than it really is. Too many journalists leave the joy out of their stories. Most newspapers document a world that is meaner
than it really is. — Ira Glass, host of “The American Life,” National Public Radio

“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, 35th President of the United States, 1917-1963

“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light..”
Joseph Pulitzer, crusading newspaper publisher and creator (posthumously) of the Pulitzer Prizes, 1847-1911

“This country cannot be the country we want it to be if its story is told by only one group of citizens. Our goal is to give all Americans front door access to the truth.”
Robert C. Maynard, 1937-1993, editor and president, Oakland Tribune, first African American to own a major metropolian newspaper

“Let her [truth] and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.”
Philosopher John Milton, writing in “Areopagitica”


“I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying — it’s watching them
commit suicide that pisses me off.” — Molly Ivins, syndicated newspaper columnist and reporter, 1944-2007

“On behalf of the newspaper industry (new, cost-cutting motto: ‘All the News That’) I wish to announce some changes we’re making to serve you better. When I say ‘serve you better,’ I mean ‘increase our profits.’ We newspapers are very big on profits these days. We’re a business, just like any other business, except that we employ English majors.”
Dave Barry, American newspaper columnist and author

“My most important piece of advice to all of you would-be writers: when you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”
— Elmore Leonard, American novelist and screenwriter

“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.
— Jerry Seinfeld, American comedian

“I never set out to become a commentator – and do continue to resist the label ‘pundit’ – but I found that keeping my opinion out of my writing was impossible. One can only stand watching from the sidelines for so long without finally having to say, ‘Um, excuse me, but you people are nuts’.”
Kathleen Parker, syndicated newspaper columnist

“…opening up a newspaper is the key to looking classy and smart. Never mind the bronze-plated stuff about the role of the press in a
democracy — a newspaper, kiddo, is about style.”
— Garrison Keillor, American humorist

“While ‘old media’ tries to figure out how they can stay relevant as the Internet
redefines what media is, ethnic media outlets are kicking butt and taking names, focusing in on their consumers’ wants and needs.”
Roland Martin, syndicated newspaper columnist, author and broadcaster;
former executive editor, The Chicago Defender

Advice & Ethics

“Your campus newsroom may end up the most valuable classroom you have during your college years. Take full advantage of your rights. But be mindful, too, of your responsibilities. As a journalist you have the power to help and to harm, to expose wrongs and to ruin careers. If you understand your power and use it wisely, you can change your corner of the world.” — Rachele Kanigel, author, “The Student Newspaper Survival Guide”

“If you want to be a journalist, you need to learn how to gather facts and tell stories. That’s basically all there is to it: 1) Gather the facts. 2) Tell the story.”
— Tim Harrower, writing in “Inside Reporting: A practical guide to the craft of journalism”

“Good writers need to develop two personalities as they write. The first is the sensitive creator of words and eloquent ideas. But the second is the critical editor, acting on behalf of the reader, who savagely scours the page looking for mistakes and unneccessary material.”
David E. Sumner and Holly G. Miller, writing in “Feature & Magazine Writing”

“Try to be conspicuously accurate in everything, pictures as well as text. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it is more interesting.”
— William Randolph Hearst, crusading newspaper publisher, 1863-1951

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires … that every word tell. ”
— William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, writing in “The Elements of Style”

“There is a principle of writing so important, so fundamental that it can be appropriately called the First Law of Journalism and it is simply this: be interesting.”
— Benton Patterson, a former editor at Guideposts

“Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient teachers, ever willing to simplify and clarify — whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.”
— Kurt Vonnegut,
American novelist and Indianapolis native, 1922-2007

American Society of Newspaper Editors Statement of Principles

Preamble: “The First Amendment … places on newspaper people a particular responsibility. Thus journalism demands of its practitioners not only industry and knowledge but also the pursuit of a standard of integrity proportionate to the journalist’s singular obligation.”

Article I: “Responsibility. The primary purpose of gathering and distributing news and opinion is to serve the general welfare by informing the people and enabling them to make judgments on the issues of the time. Newspapermen and women who abuse the power of their professional role for selfish motives or unworthy purposes are faithless to that public trust. The American press was made free not just to inform or just to serve as a forum for debate but also to bring an independent scrutiny to bear on the forces of power in the society, including the conduct of official power at all levels of government. ”

Article II: “Freedom of the Press. Freedom of the press belongs to the people. It must be defended against encroachment or assault from any quarter, public or
private. Journalists must be constantly alert to see that the public’s business is conducted in public. They must be vigilant against all who would exploit the press for selfish purposes. ”

Article III: “Independence. Journalists must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety as well as any conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict. They should neither accept anything nor pursue any activity that might
compromise or seem to compromise their integrity. ”

Article IV: “Truth and Accuracy. Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism. Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is
accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently.”

Article V: “Impartiality. To be impartial does not require the press to be unquestioning or to refrain from editorial expression. Sound practice, however, demands a clear distinction for the reader between news reports and opinion. Articles that contain opinion or personal interpretation should be clearly identified. ”

Article VI: “Fair Play. Journalists should respect the rights of people involved in the news, observe the common standards of decency and stand accountable to the public for the fairness and accuracy of their news reports. Persons publicly accused should be given the earliest opportunity to respond. Pledges of confidentiality to news sources must be honored at all costs, and therefore should not be given lightly. Unless there is clear and pressing need to maintain confidences, sources of information should be identified. ”

Photography & Design

“[The decisive moment of a photograph is] the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise
organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), considered by many to be the father of modern photojournalism

“If you can design a newspaper that’s inviting, informative and easy to read, you can — for a few minutes each day — successfully compete with all those TVs, CDs, computers and magazines. You can keep the noble old American institution — the newspaper — alive for another day.”
Tim Harrower, writing in “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook”

“The ability to transcend place and time, to take an instant and broaden it to eternity — that is the power of the picture.”
Bill Allen, editor in chief emeritus, National Geographic magazine

“A good photo, like a well-written story, is easy to read. It presents information that’s free of clutter and distractions. Every photo must be sharply focused and
cleanly composed, so its most important elements stand out instantly.”
— Tim Harrower, writing in “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook”

“… I’ve always believed that good pictures must reveal human emotion. If we haven’t achieved that, technique will not save us. Tilted horizons or toy camera pictures are best left on gallery walls.”
Paul Carter, quoted in “Graphic Communications Today”

“Great photography is loaded with great moments and compelling
expressions that tell the story or capture the essence of the event,
person or situation.”
William Ryan, writing in “Graphic Communications Today”


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