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Journalism in six words

How would you sum up journalism in six words? Poynter asked this question a few weeks back (maybe not even). I meant to comment on this earlier, but now’s as good a time as ever. You can go vote on which if the finalists you think is the best six-word summary of/motto for journalism.

Here are the top 10 finalists to choose from:

  • Doing more with less since 1690
  • We’ll always have Paris … or Britney
  • It’s how I change the world.
  • Get it right, write it tight
  • They’ll miss us when we’re gone
  • Feed the watchdog, euthanize the lapdog
  • Who, what, when, where, why, Web*
  • Facts, schmacts … how is my hair?
  • Dirty commie latte-sipping liberal scum
  • Please stop griping, now start typing

I bolded my personal favorites. The asterisk is the one for which I actually cast my vote.

Also, on the Poynter story there are several honorable mentions. Here are my favorites among those:

  • We’re sorry about all the trees

  • No news is not good news
  • How many inches is the truth?
  • Seek the truth, not the money
  • We don’t make this shit up
  • Dead wood floats. So can we
  • A journalist’s work is never done
  • History’s first version, updated every minute
  • It beats working for a living
  • Speak truth to power, or else
  • But this IS my day job!
  • Mainstream media: We’re your grandfather’s blog
  • Filling the space between the ads

So, what’s your favorite? (Vote at the Poynter story. Right now it looks like “Doing more with less since 1690” is leading, followed by “They’ll miss us when we’re gone.”)

I didn’t submit any to the contest, but here are a few humble attempts I just came up with:

  • Been there. Done that. Rinse. Repeat.

  • Every day something new to learn.
  • Speak up or hold your peace.
  • Who’s watching your government?
  • Nothing is worth more than today.
  • Tomorrow this will be forgotten.
  • I couldn’t make this stuff up.
  • As read about on Romenesko.
  • Blogs: Repurposing real journalism since 1997.

Have any contributions or ideas for your own six-word motto for journalism? It’s harder than it seems.

5 Responses to “Journalism in six words”

  1. Jared Silfies Says:

    I’d go with “It’s harder than it seems.” That sums up my attitudes toward non-journalists constantly prodding me for what I do.

    Here’s a few others:

    I want to know everything, now.

    I’d rather be blogging right now.

    Journalism is a discussion about everything.

    I meet people you read about.

    Wow that is harder than it seems.

  2. Kate Martin Says:

    Hey Meranda,

    I voted for “Please stop griping, now start typing” because some of the others were too pessimistic. I try to be a glass-is-half-full person, but with the layoffs in my area (Seattle Times and P-I), it’s hard to be optimistic.

    @ Jared, I liked your “I meet people you read about.” I think if you’d submitted that it might have made honorable mention at the very least.

    My suggestions for the entry were more tongue-in-cheek, like “Dark time sucks, shallow coverage ahead.”

  3. Meranda Says:

    I like both your submissions. Seriously, Jared, you should have submitted those. My favorite is “I want to know everything, now.”

    But I agree with Kate that I’d probably vote for “I meet people you read about.” That was the reason I cited in my recent post about “Why Journalism?”

    Kate, you’re also right that many of the Poynter submissions were pessimistic. That’s why I liked the one I voted for: Who, what, when, where, why, Web — All the important elements of a journalistic piece of work these days.

  4. Brian Boyer Says:


    “Who, what, where, when, why, web” is the tagline of my new blog, Sixth W! It predates the poll by a week – so I came first, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks for voting for the good one. :) I’ll be blogging this soon to try and get more votes.


  5. Meranda Writes » Blog Archive » Webby five-word speeches; NYTimes: No longer a newspaper site Says:

    […] Semi-related: my previous post on summing up journalism in six words. […]