Things they thought would belp us...
A prescient mistake:
Hack 1: "Shit! That last piece I filed says Smith is the president. Should have been Jones."
Hack 2: "Smith is a moral and political degenerate..."
Hack 1: "So he could get to be president just in time then?"
Foreign News desk on The Observer
A press conference:
Spokesman: "Thank you for your attention ladies and gentlemen. And if any of you are old-fashioned enough to be thinking of reporting what I actually said, do help yourselves to a copy of the statement on the table at the back."
Air France spokesman
"I came out of a TV studio to find I had been flagged up as a 'Bosnian expert'. A woman going in after me was insisting that she was a 'Child Abuse expert'. I couldn't help thinking that you'd need to be a much abused child or at least an inveterate child abuser to have the gall to go around describing yourself as an 'expert' on that subject!"
Veteran reporter in the Balkan Wars, 1992.
An inevitable catastrophe:
"I was a rebel and fairly impossible! Before long I had got the sack from my third job in a year. So I really only had one option left which was, of course, how I become a journalist."
A sports columnist on The London Newspaper Group
Re: The British journalist
"You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do,
Unbribed, there's no occasion to."
On interviewing would-be journalists:
"They'd be asked to wait for me in my office, giving me a few seconds to observe them before they spotted me. I liked the ones who wandered around, looked at my books, the pictures on the wall or the papers on my desk. Better still if they chatted up the receptionist to get more information on the place. You want people who are inquisitive hunters who are going to come away with useful information, even if it's not a story."
A London newspaper editor
Getting the priorities right:
"Nine times out of ten you'll find the buggers have hidden the real start of the story in paragraph seventeen. They're lucky I'm a saint and I've bothered to read that far. Put the beginning at the beginning: 'Stunned Londoners watched Ruritania's Foreign Minister running through Piccadilly in his pyjamas last night...' Now that could be the start of something good."
Evening Standard sub-editor
On being where it's at:
"For all I know there's a rampaging killer baked-bean in Wigan... but as we haven't got anyone there to tell us about it I'm going to have to go on this... (expletive deleted)."
Evening Standard overnights editor
What's a report:
"A reliable report is essentially no more and no less than a fair, accurate and representative statement of what the reporter perceived and believed to be the truth under the prevailing circumstances and at a particular point in time."
'The Journalist's Handbook'
Of course we're biased:
"If everyone thinks you're biased, and you're getting equal flak from both sides, you can be reasonably sure you're doing all right. At least your critics have to agree that you're being equally biased."
BBC World Service producer
Is it news:
"What you saw on TV last night was only news because there happened to be a journalist there to report it."
BBC TV news producer
Just do it:
"Reporters staring into space when they can't think how to write the first para don't sell papers! You're not chipping the bloody thing out of stone. Just write the damn story. You can always go back and re-write the start."
London Newspaper Group sub-editor