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 April 29, 2019
“Doctors bury their mistakes; journalists put theirs on the front page”

A newspaper prints its mistakes for all to see. “Doctors bury their mistakes three feet under ground; lawyers six feet above it; merchants tie theirs up in packages; farmers palm theirs off on the weather; but the printers put theirs where everybody is sure to see them, and can get cussed for stupidity” was printed in the Cherokee (KS) Sentinel on March 11, 1892. “It has been said that a doctor buries his mistakes, but an editor spreads his on a large sheet of paper, that all the world may see them” was printed in the Arizona Weekly Citizen (Tucson, AZ) on August 19, 1893.

“Doctors bury their mistakes but when a reporter makes a mistake it shows up at the top of the column, front page” was printed in the book Reminiscences of Editors and Reporters (1921) by Arthur Scott White. “Doctors bury their mistakes, lawyers hang them, but journalists put theirs on the front page” was printed in the book Professional Codes in Journalism (1979) by Lars Bruun. Authorship of the saying is unknown.


4 July 1890, Gove County Gazette and Republican (Gove City, KS), pg. 1, col. 2:
The doctor buries his mistakes in the grave yard, the lawyer in the supreme court, but the editor, what becomes of his?

11 March 1892, Cherokee (KS) Sentinel, pg. 3, col. 4:
Doctors bury their mistakes three feet under ground; lawyers six feet above it; merchants tie theirs up in packages; farmers palm theirs off on the weather; but the printers put theirs where everybody is sure to see them, and can get cussed for stupidity.

12 May 1893, Chariton Courier (Keytesville, MO), pg. 1, col. 4:
It has been truly said by some one that doctors bury their mistakes in the graveyard, lawyers cover up theirs in the supreme court, while an editor puts his misconceptions in the paper where everybody, who is a subscriber or borrows the paper fro ma neighbor, can see the comedy of errors that an editor often produces. But of course “the devil” is generally responsible for such mistakes, and a reader should not blame the editor.

19 August 1893, Arizona Weekly Citizen (Tucson, AZ), pg. 4, col. 1:
It has been said that a doctor buries his mistakes, but an editor spreads his on a large sheet of paper, that all the world may see them.

17 June 1895, Green Bay (WI) Gazette, pg. 3, col. 3:
A Worthy Pair.
Doctor—I bury my mistakes.
Criminal Lawyer—I hang mine.—New York Herald.

7 August 1903, The Carbondalian (Carbondale, KS), pg. 2, col. 3:
What He Learned.
A Colorado editor, during his experience in the newspaper business has learned:
(...)
That the doctor buries his mistakes in the cemetery, while the fool editor prints his with non-fading ink and sends them, postpaid, to hundreds of critics.

7 May 1912, University Missourian (Columbia, MO), pg. 1, col. 3:
SPEAKS ON POLICY OF CITY NEWSPAPER
George S. Johns, Post-Dispatch Editor, Says Sincerity Is Essential.
MUST ALWAYS BE FAIR
Brilliancy of Style Will Not Conceal Cynicism of Spirit.
(...)
The importance of accuracy was emphasized. The modern paper is always trying to verify its news before, not after, it is printed. The speaker caused a laugh by saying that a lawyer’s mistakes are usually concealed in technical verbiage, and that a doctor buries his mistakes, but that a newspaper man’s mistakes are exposed to the public. Everyone enjoys finding a mistake on the part of the “molders of public opinion,” said Mr. Johns.

24 October 1913, Billings (MT) Daily Gazette, “Bureau of Accountancy,” pg. 4, col. 1:
Some one has very unkindly remarked that the doctor buries his mistakes. However that may be, the newspaper man advertises his to the wide, wide world.

10 October 1917, The Central News (Perkasie, PA), pg. 2, col. 3:
OUR great business interest must be watched over with scrupulous care. The doctor can bury his mistakes, the dentist can plug his up with gold and charge it to the patient, and the lawyer gets a chance to try his case over when he finds an error, but with the business world it is different. When we make a mistake we must climb the barbed wire fence and get over on the other side to make things right with our customer—we can’t ask him to do it. The little extra care and attention necessary to do things right are therefore very important.

15 August 1920, Washington (DC) , pg. 6, col. 4:
SOMETHING IN THIS.
When a plumber makes a mistake he charges twice for it.

When a carpenter makes one it’s just what he expected.

A doctor buries his mistakes.

If a preacher makes one nobody knows the difference.

If an editor makes one, GOOD NIGHT!
H. A. SAUR.

Google Books
Reminiscences of Editors and Reporters
By Arthur Scott White
Grand Rapids, MI: A.S. White
1921
Pg. 14:
Doctors bury their mistakes but when a reporter makes a mistake it shows up at the top of the column, front page.

18 March 1922, Ada (OK) Weekly News, pg. 4, col. 2:
Some fellow has observed that a lawyer can lay his mistakes on the court and the doctor buries his mistakes, but those if the editor are right there in black and white and can’t be dodged.

8 November 1948, Dothan (AL) Eagle, pg. 4, col. 2:
A QUARTET NOW
There’s an old saying that goes like this:

Doctors bury their mistakes; lawyers see theirs go to jail; and newspapermen print theirs for all the world to read.

To these add the professional poll takers. They have to eat theirs.

Google Books
Professional Codes in Journalism
By Lars Bruun
Prague, Czechoslovakia: International Organization of Journalists; Chicago, IL: Imported Publications [distributor]
1979
Pg. 67:
... that “doctors bury their mistakes, lawyers hang them, but journalists put theirs on the front page”.

Google Groups: alt.journalism
Despotism of the journalists
Ken Creffield
11/20/94
In article <301_941...@delta.xs4all.nl>
(...)
> 2) Anyone who has a lot of power should be evaluated on their good intentions. Dishonest and inaccurate reporters quickly get found out.  ("Doctors bury their mistakes; journalists put theirs on the front page.")

Google Groups: list.stumedia
Editor in chief selection
Stephen E. Cohen
6/2/98
(...)
Stephen E. Cohen * SI Newhouse School of Public
* Communications at Syracuse U.
“Doctors bury their mistakes, and lawyers hang their mistakes. Journalists, however, put their mistakes on the front page.”
-Anonymous

Google Groups: alt.sports.hockey.nhl.vanc-canucks
Famous Canuck Quotes grin
Stash
12/18/99
(...)
Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the sports page.
Brian Burke, about the press

Google Books
Writing and Grammar:
Communication in Action

By Joyce Armstrong Carroll, Edward E. Wilson and Gary Forlini
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall
2004
Pg. 741:
An anonymous journalist once wrote, Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the front page.

Google Books
Ethics in Journalism
By Ron Smith
Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
2008
Pg. 60:
Most of the mistakes are the result of reporters proving that they are human. ("Doctors bury their mistakes,” some editor once said. “We print ours.")

Twitter
Shinil Payamal
@shinils
Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the front page.
1:00 PM - 21 Oct 2008

Facebook
Law Students Council (SM Law College)
February 26, 2014 ·
“Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the front page. And teachers exhibit theirs for generations to come.”

Twitter
Fun or Facts
@funorfacts
Doctors bury their mistakes. Lawyers hang them. But journalists put theirs on the front page �q
10:15 AM - 26 Apr 2019

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Monday, April 29, 2019 • Permalink