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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Twoback, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    In one newspaper story I read today, parentheses were used no fewer than 10 times to amplify or clarify the thoughts being expressed by people quoted.
    This is HORRENDOUS.
    I won't identify the story because I don't know whether the editors or the writer is at fault. Although, in fact, they both are.
    Some of the parentheses are unnecessary, because it already was clear from context what was being said. Some of them technically might have been, but could have been eliminated by the writer being more clear in establishing context.
    Who is teaching young writers to do this?
    Simple rule: if it's not clear what the person being quoted is saying, don't quote him or her.
    End of rants.
  2. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    I agree with the sentiment, though I think your "simple rule" is a little too draconian.

    Unless you take liberties with people's quotes, you'll occasionally need a parenthetical explanation no matter how you set it up.

    But yeah, 10 times in a story would be jarring and distracting. Most stories should be able to do without parenthetical explainers in quotes, but sometimes it's necessary.
  3. Needles

    Needles Member

    My first editor taught me to put some stats in parentheses, but I cannot imagine using them as frequently as the story you referenced. It has been a long time, but I think a preferred way to do this was the following: Joe Blow led the Teabaggers in rushing yards (103) and tackles (eight).

    Even that is obtrusive, I think, and I rarely use them now.

    If we're talking about quotes, then it's more acceptable but still not ideal. I'm not a big fan of parentheses in quotes because I always try to figure out what the subject actually said. Sometimes the substitution doesn't make sense. Regardless, 10 times is far too often.

  4. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    If it needs a paranthetical explanation, maybe it's not that good of a quote?
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    That construction is OK if not overdone.

    But I agree completely that we overexplain things that are obvious in context within quotes. And yeah, if you need 10 parenthetical references, the quote is probably better paraphrased.

    I also think we overdo -- by a long shot -- parenthetical information in cutlines.

    "O.J. Simpson (32) gains 8 of his 32 yards in the second quarter."

    "Michael Jordan (32) goes up for a rebound against Keith Van Horn in the third quarter."

    In No. 1, who else but the guy holding the football is gaining the yardage?

    In No. 2, if you have to explain the difference between Michael Jordan and Keith van Horn, I can probably do without your readership (and if you don't like that thinking, if you write the information in left-to-right fashion, that's going to make it clear, too).
  6. joe king

    joe king Active Member

    How about: Joe Blow led the Teabaggers with 103 rushing yards and eight tackles.

    My philosophy on this is to avoid parentheses unless there is absolutely no other possible solution, like a dropped word in a quote or something. They are a last resort. Occasionally, you have to use parentheses, but only occasionally. I'm OK with things like records -- Juicers starter Jason Grimsley (1-7) allowed 15 runs and 17 hits in four innings -- but otherwise there's usually a better way to say something without having to disrupt the reader with parentheses. If a quote needs an explanation, it can often be provided outside the quote marks rather than in parentheses in the middle of the quote.

    But hey, that's just me.
  7. ServeItUp

    ServeItUp Active Member

    Last line of "You Gotta Play Hurt:"

    "...if Nell could see to it that my column went another three whole months without a parenthesis in the lead, I just might marry that girl."
  8. there was that legendary cutline when Pope John Paul II went to some Italian prison to meet the guy who shot him

    Pope John Paul II (left) blesses Mehmet Ali Agca (kneeling) ...
  9. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    "Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan (32), of the United States, goes up for a rebound against New Jersey Nets small forward Keith Van Horn (2), of the United States, during the third quarter of a National Basketball Association regular-season game in this Associated Press file photo from March 16, 1998 in Chicago, Illinois, United States, North America, World, Universe. The Chicago Bulls won, 88-72. (AP Photo / Joe Blow)"

    Van Horn didn't play that night because of a broken toe, but don't let that get in the way of a humorous postpad. ;D
  10. bydesign77

    bydesign77 Active Member

    What is it with you people :mad:

    Jordan was (23)
  11. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    According to the ridiculously overpriced jersey I bought, he was (45) :( lol
  12. We actually have a style rule for it. If you have to use parens more than twice in a paragraph, then our style rules dictate that you paraphrase.
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