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What is news? (from "The News Manual")

from The News Manual

Famous quotes on journalism

The News Manual has definitions of what news is (see the lower links on the right), but here we share with you some other people's opinions on the subject. Some of them are clear and reasonable while others are deeply cynical. Some are given as practical advice after years of professional experience while others are just witty. But all are worth thinking about.

One brief disclaimer: With many quotes there are ongoing disputes about the precise wording, translation or attribution. One of the oldest quotes here is Voltaire's famous defence of freedom of speech, yet arguments continue about it to this day. While we have tried to give the most accurate version of each quote and its attribution, we always stand to be corrected through the Contact Us page. Enjoy.


What is news?

man bites dogWhen a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.
Charles Anderson Dana, American journalist, 1819-1897

News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.
Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922

Well, news is anything that's interesting, that relates to what's happening in the world, what's happening in areas of the culture that would be of interest to your audience.
Kurt Loder, American journalist, b. 1945

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, American publisher, 1847-1911

News is anything that makes a reader say, `Gee Whiz'!
Arthur MacEwen, American editor,

No one says "Gee Whiz!" very much these days, of course, not even in America — both because that expression has long since been supplanted by others more colourful and less printable, and because our capacity for surprise has long since been dulled by a surfeit of sources.
Shashi Tharoor, Indian writer and diplomat, b. 1956

What you see is news, what you know is background, what you feel is opinion.
Lester Markel, American journalist, 1894-1977

It is hard news that catches readers. Features hold them.
Lord Northcliffe, British publisher 1865-1922

To a journalist, good news is often not news at all.
Phil Donahue, American entertainer, b. 1935

No news is good news.
Ludovic Halevy, French author, 1834-1908

[News is] a first rough draft of history.
Philip L. Graham, American publisher, 1915-1963

For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.
Gloria Borger, American journalist, b. 1952

The real news is bad news.
Marshall Mcluhan, Canadian communications theorist, 1911-1980

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.
Evelyn Waugh, British author, 1903-1966

Good stories flow like honey but bad stories stick in the craw [gullet]. What is a bad story? It's a story that cannot be absorbed in the first time of reading. It's a story that leaves questions unanswered.
Arthur Christiansen, British newspaper editor, 1904-1963

Hard news really is hard. It sticks not in the craw but in the mind. It has an almost physical effect, causing fear, interest, laughter or shock.
Andrew Marr, British journalist, b. 1959

Never awake me when you have good news to announce, because with good news nothing presses; but when you have bad news, arouse me immediately, for then there is not an instant to be lost.
Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, 1769-1821

Journalism consists largely in saying Lord Jones died to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
G.K. Chesterton, British writer, 1874-1936

News reports stand up as people, and people wither into editorials. Clichés walk around on two legs while men are having theirs shot off.
Karl Kraus, Austrian satirist, 1874-1936

A master passion is the love of news.
George Crabbe, British poet, 1754-1832

For a more humorous definition of news in America, go to:

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."


  • Based on the fact that the origin of the world news is compiled from the first letters of
    "North, East, West and South" (i.e. the word in itself doesn't indicate "Truth")  together with the media's statistics  that bad news sells faster than good news and that many people read the NEWS to be entertained rather than informed, is there any such thing as "Fake News" or "Real News"?  Is the real intent of news publications to sway people's opinions in one direction or another by any means at their disposal without actual evidence.  Most news could be looked at in the view of "What's in it for me?" in this century.

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    Some great quotes that speak the truth about news. Today, information seems to be delivered as:

    - Opinion
    - Entertainment
    - Propaganda it's no real wonder that so few have a grip on reality.
    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
  • There is no implication in those quotations as to what news is to be taken as  fake and what is real.  News can be from hearsay therefore could be taken to be a different scenario from that evidence presented in court under oath.  

    It's clear that designating some news as "fake" is intended to discriminate against alternative news sites competing against MSM for readers as one detracts from the adherents of the other either positively or negatively.

    In this case how can a fine (ref the article on Germany imposing fines on Facebook) imposed on news, images or videos deemed to be fake be legal?  Deleting news that isn't hateful or discriminatory from social media sites or elsewhere could be taken as denial of freedom of speech.  It appears that "news" is being relegated to same realm as court "evidence".

    In taking things to an extreme level,  will Facebookers who post family news/gossip to their friends eventually be put under scrutiny as to whether their "news" is "truthful"?

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • My favorite quote about the news.

    "If you don't read the news, you are uninformed.  If you do read the news, you are misinformed."

    If the politicians treat people this poorly when they're armed to the teeth,

    just imagine what they'll be willing to do once they've disarmed everyone.

  • tazweiss said:

    My favorite quote about the news.

    "If you don't read the news, you are uninformed.  If you do read the news, you are misinformed."

    A thought we should all ponder... 

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

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