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Editing quotes to reflect proper speech

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mustangj17, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I know we have had this discussion before but I could not find the specific thread.

    I'm looking for some opinion's on editing this quote.

    I interviewed a restaurant manager who is a non-native speaker. He did a pretty good job of delivering some good quotes in the interview except some of them had improper grammar. I don't want him to look like an idiot. I also don't want to change the quotes. What's the ruling?

    Here is one of the things he said:

    "We try to do faster service.......

    Can I change it to "We try to have faster service" ?
     
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    No. If it bothers you, paraphrase.

    His version isn't confusing.
     
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    There was a soccer coach in Brattleboro named Socksy Martin, from Trinidad and Tobago. Funny guy, and fun to be around. His quotes were not grammatically correct, but we ran them.

    He'd say something to the effect, "I told she to kick the ball hard." ... It should've been "I told her to kick the ball hard."

    I felt that changing the quotes was dishonest.
     
  4. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Paraphrase, or if it's absolutely necessary and you know with 100 percent certainty that it was meant this way, replace the word with one in parenthesis. You can't change the words coming out of your quote's mouth, but you also want to take care not to make them look like an almighty idiot.

    We do it anyway. Unless somebody out there is running every "uh" and "um" and "ah" their subject utters. Didn't the Herald do that to Clemens for a while when he got pissed about inaccurate quoting?
     
  5. chilidog75

    chilidog75 Member

    You could always go with the "we try to (have) faster service."
    But I usually only put parenthesis in a quote if it's confusing in some way. His quote is not.

    Speaking of this, three times in my life a person has told me during an interview that so and so "just has an aroma about them."

    Anyone else ever get this mistake? And what did you do about it

    Personally, I went with "so and so just has an (aura) about them," --- because I didn't want to embarrass the people involved. And I didn't think they were really trying to say that so and so smelled. So I fixed it up for them.
     
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I'd leave THAT particular quote as is, mustang.

    If there were something really grammatically wrong, I'd replace the offending word with the correct word in parentheses. Otherwise, paraphrase, paraphrase, paraphrase. And don't be a doucebag about it. :D
     
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    You know, I've been in the business for 32 years now, and if all the people who come on here to say you never clean up a quote and always run it exactly word for word or paraphrase it, no exceptions, are the norm in the business, then I've never worked with any of them. And I'm talking some pretty big newspapers -- including, at one time, one of the three biggest.

    The quote in this case is fine. though. But people here, AP -- whose stated style is to not clean up quotes -- if I might say this with the greatest affection and respect: You're all full of shit. :) EVERYBODY in this business routinely cleans up little problems in quotes. The person who has never, not once, ever cleaned up even a smidgen of grammar in a quote, please introduce yourself -- but rest assured, I won't believe you for a second.
     
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    mustang asked for opinions on that particular quote. I wouldn't change that.

    I have tweaked others.
     
  9. lmcmillan33

    lmcmillan33 Member

    A Michigan football player after getting pounded by Ohio State this year said next year was going to be a 360. Could be, but I know he meant 180, so I replaced that in parentheses.
     
  10. golfnut8924

    golfnut8924 Guest

    I was once taught by a superior that fixing things like "ain't" is okay because you are doing the person a favor by making them look better. Also, even though it's in a quote, it can make your paper look a little silly to print the word "ain't" or something similar. So it's also making your paper look a little better because you don't have stuff like that on your page, whether it's a quote or not. Bottom line is that I doubt any athlete will ever complain about you cleaning up his grammar to make him/her look a little more intelligent.
     
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    WFW. Give or take a smidgen cleaned up. ;D
     
  12. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    "WHAT DO VOLUNTARY MEAN?"

    Probably the only time this decade that the AP has been shamed into running a fully accurate quote.
     
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