Put It Before Them Briefly So That They Will Read It, Clearly So That They Will Understand It

Joseph Pulitzer? Alleyne Ireland? Lloyd Cory? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer once described the writing style he required from his journalists. He demanded brief, clear, forceful, picturesque, and accurate prose. Would you please help me to find citation?

Quote Investigator: Joseph Pulitzer was the publisher of “The New York World” and the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch”. He died in 1911. The quotation appeared in a 1914 book titled “Joseph Pulitzer: Reminiscences of a Secretary” by Alleyne Ireland.

In 1910 Ireland saw an advertisement for a companion-secretary to an unnamed gentleman. During the multi-part interview process, Ireland learned that the advertisement had been placed on behalf of Pulitzer who required considerable help because of his health problems and blindness.

Ireland’s success during preliminary interviews led to a meeting with Pulitzer himself during which they discussed journalism. Pulitzer contrasted the audiences of “The Times” of London and “The New York World”. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

The World isn’t like your Times, with its forty or fifty thousand educated readers. It’s read by, well, say a million people a day; and it’s my duty to see that they get the truth; but that’s not enough, I’ve got to put it before them briefly so that they will read it, clearly so that they will understand it, forcibly so that they will appreciate it, picturesquely so that they will remember it, and, above all, accurately so that they may be wisely guided by its light.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1914, Joseph Pulitzer: Reminiscences of a Secretary by Alleyne Ireland, Chapter 2: Meeting Joseph Pulitzer, Quote Page 68 and 69, Mitchell Kennerly, New York. (Google Books Full View) link