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.

Recent entries:
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (11/21)
“I couldn’t decide whether or not to make spiced apple cider, so I mulled it over” (11/21)
“Pancakes are just morning pizzas” (11/21)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (11/21)
“The man leaned on the printer cartridge because he wanted to tone up his abs” (11/21)
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Entry from May 02, 2012
“A journalist is an unemployed reporter”

What is the difference between a journalist and a reporter? The term “journalist” is often said to be a fancier (or more pretentious) version of the term “reporter.”

“A journalist is an unemployed reporter” is a joke that is still told. “A journalist is a reporter out of a job” has been credited to the writer Mark Twain (1835-1910), but there’s no evidence that he ever said or wrote it. “A journalist is a reporter out of a job” was written by the Trenton (NJ) newspaper columnist Marvin A. Riley in 1911, and “Journalist — A journalist is a reporter who hasn’t a steady job” appeared in the humor magazine The Judge in 1923.

It’s often said that a journalist is a reporter with two suits, and this saying dates from about 1915.


8 December 1911, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, “Light and Shade” by Marvin A. Riley, pg. 19, col. 5:
“Will you please tell me the difference between a reporter and a journalist?”
“Well, Queenie—a reporter is an obnoxious person, whose business it is to butt into the business of other persons and a journalist is a reporter out of a job.”

31 March 1915, Centralia (WA) Daily Chronicle-Examiner, pg. 2, col. 2:
One definition of a journalist is a reporter who both wears and owns without encumbrance a dress suit.

26 December 1921, La Crosse (WI) Tribune and Leader-Press, pg. 3, col. 1:
THE death of Colonel Henry Watterson closed a great career in American journalism. One uses the term “journalism” notwithstanding the fact that Colonel Watterson’s definition of a journalist was “a reporter with a cane.”

Google Books
The Judge
Volume 85
1923
Pg. ?:
Journalist — A journalist is a reporter who hasn’t a steady job.

Google Books
The Listener
British Broadcasting Corporation
Volume 63
1960
Pg. 891:
It is almost as if Americans were strangely afraid to face up openly to the dimensions of mind and intellectuality involved in the art of journalism. Indeed a journalist is defined in America as ‘an unemployed reporter ‘.

21 February 1971, Sunday Times Advertiser (Trenton, NJ), “This Week’s Films” reviewed by George H. Atkinson and Joyce J. Persico, pg. 11, col. 1:
... (a journalist is a reporter who can’t hold his liquor) ...

12 November 1972, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), Dixie magazine, pg. 58, col. 2:
It is said in the newspaper business that the difference between a reporter and a journalist is that the journalist is a reporter who owns his own typewriter.

2 July 1973, The Bee (Danville, VA), “Practical joke lands reporter in guardhouse” by John Keasler, pg. 4A, col. 6:
(By the old definition, a “journalist” was a reporter with two suits. Doubtless someone in “the media” owns stock in a boutique.)

Google Books
Kosygin Is Coming
By Tom Ardies
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1974
Pg. ?:
“I take it you’re a journalist?”
“If that’s an unemployed reporter,” Shaver said cheerfully.

17 July 1978, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “A Ration of Wisdom” by Roger Simon (Chicago Sun-Times Service), pg. 4, col. 5:
A journalist is a reporter who’s dead.

Google Books
PROCEEDINGS
FIFTY-FIRST ANNUAL CONVENTION
The Newspaper Guild
AFL-CIO, CLC

Issue 56
Jan 1, 1989 (Google Books date and title might both be incorrect—ed.)
Pg. 85:
So I will tell you simply that Manchester rises in opposition to the minority report, and secondly I would point out I think it was Will Rogers who suggested that a journalist is an unemployed reporter. (Laughter.)

5 June 2002, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, pg. A12, col. 1:
“A journalist is a reporter out of a job.”
-- Mark Twain

Bylines (University of Colorado at Boulder Alumni Newsletter)
Fall 2005
Graduation
Wall Street Journal’s Jon Weil: Try to go beyond accuracy
Jonathan Weil (’91), who reports on the accounting industry for The Wall Street Journal, delivered the School’s graduation speech on May 5 in Macky Auditorium. Following are excerpts.


I was in your same position not quite 14 years ago, in this same auditorium. Most of us in my class of December 1991 had no idea what we’d be doing six months later, much less with our careers. There’s an old joke that a journalist is somebody who’s an unemployed reporter. If your class is anything like mine was, I suspect a lot of you still will fit that definition of a journalist after you graduate today.

MarketWatch
Anything but a cheap education
Chicago and journalism lose a storied franchise

December 07, 2005|Padraic Cassidy, MarketWatch
(...)
City News was a great place to be from, as the longtime Chicago Daily News reporter and City News alum Ed Rooney said. Actually having to work there was another matter.

Rooney had another piece of advice I never forgot: Call yourself a reporter, not a journalist. A journalist, he said, is just a name for an unemployed reporter.

SportsJournalists.com Forum
Define “Journalist”
June 19, 2006, 01:37:44 PM
goalmouth:
A journalist is an unemployed reporter.

VibrantVictoria.ca Discussion Forum
Galvanized
Sep 06, 2007, 10:22 PM
Russ Francis leaves Monday Magazine
Three-Oh
“Now boys, shake hands and play nice.” Russ Francis faces off with former city manager Don Roughley (left), whose name appeared frequently in Francis’ columns over the years
By RUSS FRANCIS
Sep 05 2007
(...)
I’ve never liked the term “journalist.” As someone once said, a journalist is an unemployed reporter, trying to sound more important than they really are.

Wassup!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Back to New Delhi a day early....
(...)
They have a mass communications department here - journalism for TV, newspapers and radio. Being a former journalist (wait - a journalist is an unemployed reporter, so I guess I am *still* a journalist!), I was asked about the difference between India and US journalism.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Wednesday, May 02, 2012 • Permalink