Thursday, 19 April 2012

The single best piece of advice I ever received

The single best piece of advice I ever received was from my first editor: "If in doubt, leave it out."
It reflected the fear of any journalist worthy of the name - making a mistake in a story that requires a published correction and raises the prospect of a libel claim.
If the News International newspapers hadn't come to believe they could bend the rules with impunity, the News of the World might still be in business.
"If in doubt, leave it out" is a maxim that holds true too in the uncertain world outside of newspapers. It may be "faint heart never won fair lady" but it's indisputable "fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
Where there is no doubt indeed go for it; seize the day. But if you're losing sleep over a decision then leave it out.
Every now again I missed the boat but the cost has been more than balanced by the caution that stopped me making what hindsight would show were the wrong choices.

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