We here at Public Eye believe that Independence Day is a day to reflect on many things: how fortunate we are to be Americans; how come old-school entertainment like fireworks still does something for us; why baseball games struggle to get under three hours – can't we make a rule that wriststraps can only be adjusted once per at-bat? Nomar, we're talking to you – and why journalism isn't just a Paris Hilton-style diversion, but a vocation.
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Given the fact that we'll be taking tomorrow to celebrate America's birthday – despite the Declaration of Independence being signed on July 2nd (there's the factchecker in us again) – we wanted to commemorate the occasion. And not only with some ground beef on a grill and a chance encounter with an adult beverage, but with our favorite quotes/aphorisms/mottos/one-liners about journalism, freedom of the press and all the sort of stuff Charles Foster Kane tossed in his Declaration of Principles.
So without further ado, we present to you a list – yes, a list – of 10 of our favorite quotes about The Fourth Estate. Feel free to work any or all of them into your bar-b-que plans for the holiday, and pass them off as though they were on the top of your head all along. We know you will anyway.
The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.
Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.
There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.
The liberty of the press is a blessing when we are inclined to write against others, and a calamity when we find ourselves overborne by the multitude of our assailants.
A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.
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.
Number Four: (Aka: Whenever you can think up a reason to bring up Grace Kelly, do it.)
The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it.
News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising.
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.
Number One: (You'll thank us for this at the picnic.)
A news story should be like a mini skirt on a pretty woman. Long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting.