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Posts Tagged ‘quotes’

What’s The Equivalent Of ‘Ink By The Barrel’ On The Internet?

One of my all-time favorite journalism quotes, often misattributed to Mark Twain, goes something like:


“Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton.”



The actual phrasing, history and correct attribution of this quote, commonly called “Greener’s Law,” are hard to determine. (That page actually has a lot of good info on the history and variations, if you’re into that.)

The idea is generally, it’s a bad idea to argue with someone that wields so much power and influence as a daily newspaper (or at least, as much as the newspaper once did in many communities). Today, however, there are so many different forms of media outlets that the newspaper itself doesn’t hold so much power.

So, while figuring out who first said it and how might not be something we can do in hindsight, I thought — inspired by a blog post on the topic by Peter Lewis — it would be fun to look forward instead and figure out what the new media equivalent would be. I’m sure the 10,000 Words readership has a few fun ideas for the next incarnation of this phrase.

How would you adapt this idea to the modern media?

Here are a few fun suggestions from Lewis, myself and others:

  • Never pick a fight with someone who buys their bandwidth by the gigabyte. (From Darrell Patrick)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who gets more than a million uniques a month (From Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has a black belt in SEO techniques (Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has more than 500,000 Twitter followers (Lewis)
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has a camera and a Twitter following
  • Never pick a fight with someone who collectively goes by Anonymous
  • Never pick a fight with someone who knows how to use the Internet better than you
  • Never pick a fight with someone who isn’t above hacking into your voicemail for a scoop
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has compromising photos, video or audio you
  • Never pick a fight with someone who has access to Google to prove you wrong immediately

Send in your suggestions and I can append them to this list.

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15 quotes to inspire journalists

It’s easy to find litanies of the things wrong with journalism today or the treatises of rumors and reasons it’s dying. This isn’t one of those lists. Instead, here’s a collection of quotes to inspire journalists and pay homage to those forging the future.

As you read these, feel free to replace newspaper with website and print with post, and so on. Think less about the specific word choice and more about the underlying truth.

“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.”
– Horace Greeley

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”
– Arthur Miller

“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

“Bad things don’t happen to writers; it’s all material.”
– Garrison Keillor

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
– Voltaire

“I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”
– Tom Stoppard

“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.’ ”
– Jef Mallett

“The less you know, the more you believe.”

– Bono

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.”
– Christopher Morley

“Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.”
– David Sedaris

“News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising. The power is to set the agenda. What we print and what we don’t print matter a lot.”

– Katharine Graham

“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”

– Henry Luce

“The future does not fit in the containers of the past.”
– Rishad Tobaccowala

“In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
– Eric Hoffer

The last two are my personal favorites when it comes to the intersection of journalism and technology. What are your favorites? Share them in the comments.