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 June 19, 2010
“If your mother says she loves you, check it out”

"If your mother says she loves you, check it out” is a newspaper adage, cautioning reporters to always check the facts. The saying (cited in print since at least 1974) became a slogan of the Chicago City News Bureau, credited to both Edward H. Eulenberg and Arnold A. Dornfeld.

Eulenberg once said that his original remarks had been changed: “What I said was, If your mother tells you she loves you, kick her smartly in the shins and make her prove it.’”


Google News Archive
1 May 1974, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, “Mother Takes Kids To Press Club Convention” by Liliane Johnson, pg. 4B, col. 3:
One speaker of the Florida Press Club, Rolfe Neill, Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, said on the importance of checking the facts:

“If your mother tells you she loves you—check it out.”

8 June 1975, Racine (WI) Journal-Times, “Report to our readers” by Doug Kaiser, pg. 8A, col. 4:
An old newspaper adage that is constantly in the editor’s mind is: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”

Google News Archive
30 April 1976, The Southeast Missourian (Cape Girardeau, MO), “Name SEMO journalists to positions,” pg. 3, cols. 1-3:
Dr. Ralph H. Johnson, member of the journalism faculty at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, cautioned the campus journalists against assuming anything as they move into the field.
(...)
“Be vigilant against making assumptions,” he said. “One editor said, ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’”

25 June 1976, Lima (OH) News, “Lighter Side” by Earl Wilson, pg. B7, col. 2:
In this skeptical age, Ed Eulenberg, assistant city editor of the Chicago Daily News, cautions young reporters: “Be wary. If your mother says she loves you, check on it.”

Google Books
Reporting and Writing the News
By Evan Hill and John J. Brown
Boston, MA: Little, Brown
1977
Pg. 36:
Never, never assume anything; if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Google Books
The Mother Book
By Liz Smith
New York, NY: Bantam Books
1979
Pg. ?:
Eulenberg, assistant city editor of the Chicago Daily News, cautions young reporters: “Be wary. If your mother says she loves you, check on it.”

Google Books
Behind the Front Page:
The story of the City News Bureau of Chicago

By A A Dornfeld, Tom Vickerman andArchibald Leckie
Chicago, IL: Academy Chicago
1983
Pg. IX:
Accuracy? I don’t know who said it first, but Dornie is generally credited with the immortal lines: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” And: “Don’t tell me what you think—tell me what you know.”

12 January 1988, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Edward Eulenberg, Master Reporter” by Kenan Heise, Chicagoland, pg. 13:
Edward H. Eulenberg, 80, a City News Bureau and Chicago Daily News reporter and editor for 50 years, painstakingly trained hundreds of the city’s journalists there and at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where he taught. He is credited with originating the dictum for reporters: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

12 January 1988, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Edward H. Eulenberg, 80, Chicago journalism legend” by M. W. Newman, pg. 62: 
Edward H. Eulenberg, 80, a father figure of Chicago journalism with a passion for hard facts and precise words, died Monday in Seattle.

Mr. Eulenberg was a 50-year veteran of the City News Bureau and later of the old Chicago Daily News - but he was best known as the hands-on teacher of hundreds of Chicago reporters, past and present.

He was a legend, and the older he got, the more celebrated he became. His admiring pupils almost always recalled him as the hard-boiled editor who advised young reporters, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
(...)
“What I said was, If your mother tells you she loves you, kick her smartly in the shins and make her prove it.’”

20 October 1991, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Arnold Dornfeld, legendary editor at City News Bureau” by Frank Burgos, pg. 67:
Arnold A. Dornfeld, who looked like a lumberjack, played like a sailor and worked as a newsman, died Friday in his Geneseo, Ill., home. He was 84 and a legend.

For 44 years, he was a reporter, rewrite man and night editor for the City News Bureau of Chicago, a local wire service owned by the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. There - armed with a gruff voice, baleful look and his famous rule on accuracy - he turned hundreds of raw reporters into respectable journalists.

His rule: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

In other words: Go back, make the extra phone call, make sure you have it right.

Toronto Star
Quote delivers kick in the shins
Published On Sat Jul 22 2006
“If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” read a banner in the Chicago City News Bureau, the advice attributed to editor Edward Eulenberg.

According to Eulenberg’s obituary, he once confessed, “I never said that. What I said was, `If your mother tells you she loves you, kick her smartly in the shins and make her prove it.’”

A warning for journalists to live by.

Google Books
Chicago journalism: a history
By Wayne Klatt
Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.
2009
Pg. ?:
While at City News he coined its motto, which originally was “If your mother says she loves you, kick her in the shins and make her prove it.” A politer version emerged in the retelling, “If your mother says she loves you, check it.” But this became “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” and years of efforts by Eulenberg and his editor friend AA Dornfeld could never change it back.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 19, 2010 • Permalink