Great Quotes

Manipulating the media

Here’s a great example of how an advocacy groups with a good PR team can easily influence the press. The same headline about health insurance woes appears in 200 different newspapers.

Walter Lippmann pointed this out in 1922:

For the practice of appealing to the public on all sorts of intricate matters means almost always a desire to escape criticism from those who know by enlisting a large majority which has had no chance to know. The verdict is made to depend on who has the loudest or the most entrancing voice, the most skillful or the most brazen publicity man, the best access to the most space in the newspapers. For even when the editor is scrupulously fair to “the other side,” fairness is not enough. There may be several other sides, unmentioned by any of the organized, financed and active partisans.

By | April 9th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

On defending the ethics of journalism

Every journalist who is not stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns — when the article or book appears — his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and the “public’s right to know”; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.

— “The Journalist and the Murderer,” Janet Malcolm

By | December 30th, 2008|great quotes|0 Comments

On knowledge

Here’s a great quote from Shakespeare:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
— “Hamlet”, Act 1 scene 5

When he says philosophy, he’s talking about science.

By | October 1st, 2008|great quotes|0 Comments

On Stereotypes

Here’s a great quote from Walter Lippmann, author of “Public Opinion.” When he talks about stereotypes, he’s not just talking about being racist — he means all of the subconscious assumptions we make about how the world works:

What matters is the character of the stereotypes, and the gullibility with which we employ them. And these in the end depend upon those inclusive patterns which constitute our philosophy of life. If in that philosophy we assume that the world is codified according to a code which we possess, we are likely to make our reports of what is going on describe a world run by our code. But if our philosophy tells us that each man is only a small part of the world, that his intelligence catches at best only phases and aspects in a coarse net of ideas, then, when we use our stereotypes, we tend to know that they are only stereotypes, to hold them lightly, to modify them gladly. We tend, also, to realize more and more clearly when our ideas started, where they started, how they came to us, why we accepted them. All useful history is antiseptic in this fashion. It enables us to know what fairy tale, what school book, what tradition, what novel, play, picture, phrase, planted one preconception in this mind, another in that mind.

Well said.

By | September 27th, 2008|great quotes|0 Comments