The Mark Twain School of Journalism

Mary
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I came across this huge compilation of Mark Twain quotes the other day, and in reading them I noticed that a surprising number of them sounded like particularly good advice for journalists -- so I am founding the Mark Twain School of Journalism right here on mental_floss. Class is in session! And for your first assignment, many, many quotes attributed to Mark Twain were not actually said by him, so fact-check me:

  • "Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for."
  • "Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
  • "I don't give a damn for a man who can spell a word only one way."
  • "It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."
  • "I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won't."
  • "Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish."
  • "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
  • "Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense."
  • "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
  • "Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
  • "My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately, everybody drinks water."
  • "Honesty was the best policy."
  • "Honesty: The best of all the lost arts."
  • "It is wiser to find out than to suppose."

Well, that just about does it for this article....

Oh, no.

  • "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction."

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October 10, 2006 - 8:17am
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