A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 24, 2011
“There are no dull stories, only dull reporters”

"There are no dull stories, only dull reporters/writers/authors” is often said about newspaper writing and other writing. Longtime New York City newspaper columist Franklin Pierce Adams or “F.P.A” (1881-1960) wrote in The New Yorker of September 21, 1929: “There are no dull stories; there are only bored reporters.”

“FPA” credited Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune columnist Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921) for authorship of the saying. However, the search term “no dull stories” does not appear in any of Taylor’s writings in the Tribune.


Wikipedia: Bert Leston Taylor
Bert Leston Taylor (November 13, 1866 – March 19, 1921) was an American columnist, humorist, poet, and author.

Bert Leston Taylor became a journalist at seventeen, a librettist at twenty-one, and a successfully published author at thirty-five. At the height of his literary career, he was a central literary figure of the early 20th century Chicago renaissance as well as one of the most celebrated columnists in the United States.

Wikipedia: Franklin Pierce Adams
Franklin Pierce Adams (November 15, 1881, Chicago, Illinois – March 23, 1960, New York City, New York) was an American columnist (under the pen name F.P.A.) and wit, best known for his newspaper column, “The Conning Tower”, and his appearances as a regular panelist on radio’s Information Please. He was a prolific writer of light verse, and a member of the Algonquin Round Table of the 1920s and 1930s.

8 October 1929, Massillon (OH) Evening Independent, pg. 4, col. 3:
NOW, NOW!
F. P. A., the Whom-orist of Park Row, in an article in the New Yorker, quotes into Bert Leston Taylor as saying “there are no dull stories, only bored reporters.”
And what becomes of “bored reporters”?
They become Whom-orists, of course.

Google Books
Traveling Through Life; being the autobiography of Clara E. Laughlin
By Clara E. Laughlin
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
1934
Pg. 136:
I think it was George Horace Lorimer who once said to me: “There are no dull stories; but there are many dull authors.”

Google Books
The Enjoyment of Literature
By Elizabeth A. Drew
New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
1935
Pg. 112:
We imagine that there are interesting stories and dull stories, but it is not so: there are no dull stories, there are only dull people who write books; and, we must add, dull people who read them.

Google Books
Nods and Becks
By Franklin P. Adams
New York, NY: Whittlesey House: McGraw-Hill Book Co.
1944
Pg. 183:
That — and I think the late Bert Leston Taylor told me this when I told him that I was doing some reporting for the New York Sun and that I found every assignment fascinating — there are no dull stories; there are only bored reporters.

Google News Archive
23 July 1945, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Walter Winchell column, pg. 12, col. 2:
School of Journalism
(With a nod to “Nods and Becks,” F. P. A.’s latest book published by McGraw-Hill Whittlesey.)

(...)
I think it was Bert Leston Taylor who told me that there are no dull stories; there are only bored reporters.

Google Books
Public-School Publicity,
A practical guide for teachers and administrators

By Gunnar Horn
New York,NY:  Inor Pub. Co.
1948
Pg. 88:
Franklin P. Adams credits Bert Leston Taylor with the remark that there are no dull stories; there are only bored reporters. One writer might tell a story about a blind child’s dog in such a way as to set the town laughing; another writer might bring a lump to the reader’s throat; still another might arouse the reader’s ...

Google Books
Modern Sportswriting
By Louis I. Gelfand and Harry E. Heath
Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press
1969
Pg. 266:
As an old newsroom pro once commented: “There are no dull stories. Only dull writers.”

1 January 1982, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Some Things Easier Said Than Done,” pt. 3, pg. E1:
As Gene Fowler used to say, “There are no dull stories, only dull writers.”

Google Books
The Complete Reporter:
Fundamentals of news gathering, writing, and editing, complete with exercises

By Julian Harriss, Kelly Leiter and Stanley P Johnson
New York, NY: Macmillan
1985
Pg. 8:
There really are no dull stories, only unimaginative, lazy reporters.

Google Books
The Cat Who Went Underground
By Lilian Jackson Braun
New York, NY: Jove Books
1989
Pg. ?:
There are no dull stories, he told himself—only dull reporters.

Google Books
Defining New Yorker humor
By Judith Yaross Lee
Jackson, MS: Univ. Press of Mississippi
2000
Pg. 315:
The New Yorker generally steered clear of stories from journalists’ standpoint but occasionally made room for a congratulatory piece by an old friend, as when F.P.A.’s “The Lore She Brought Me” listed such truisms as “the business office and the editorial office hate each other” and “there are no dull stories; there are only bored reporters” (9/21/29:31).

Google Books
Sportswriting:
The lively game

By Conrad C. Fink
Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press
2001
Pg. 63:
There are no dull stories, only dull reporters.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Monday, January 24, 2011 • Permalink