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quoting bad speakers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jakewriter82, Mar 23, 2007.

  1. jakewriter82

    jakewriter82 Active Member

    So I just met the new softball coach here in town...and she's a nice woman. She's easy to talk to and answered all my questions I had for her.
    She does however, have no sense of grammar. I have her on tape and if I quoted her exactly how she spoke to me she'd sound like a total idiot.

    She did give me a few quotes that were grammatically correct, but most of what she said was not.
    Her meaning was clear in her quotes, it was just how she said it that was ugly.

    How do you go about quoting people who can't speak well without making them sound like fools?
    Should I just paraphrase a lot? When is it OK to change a quote that has poor grammar?
  2. villageidiot

    villageidiot Member

    If she's a high school softball coach, and she's teaching high school students, quote her exactly to show how our tax dollars are spent to "educate" America's youth.
  3. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    And when it turns out she teaches algebra ... :)
  4. villageidiot

    villageidiot Member

    Then she graduated from college and should by now know how to sting together a sentence.
  5. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Even if she was a student-athlete at Auburn?
  6. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

  7. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Some people are just lousy quotes, which is too bad because they often have interesting things to say. But most stories use too many quotes anyway.
    So just paraphrase your little heart out, when you need a direct quote clean up the minor stuff -- the ums, ers and likes, no need to embarrass her -- and elipse and elide as necessary, and remember this little maxim of an old editor of mine: "I only quote someone when they can say it better than I can say it for them, which isn't often."
  8. Taylee

    Taylee Member

    I correct grammar in quotes (and copy) all the time. Very few people speak in a way fit for print. I see no harm, especially in a one-on-one interview.
    You're not changing context.
  9. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    very well said Taylee. Plus, you might also score some points with the coach for cleaning it up. A lot of times people realize how badly they screwed up in an interview.
  10. Taylee

    Taylee Member

    I've had more than one coach ask, "Can you clean this up so I don't sound like an idiot."
    I'm sure most other writers have heard a similar plea.
  11. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Which is also a sign that you're developing a good working relationship with the coach. I always smiled when told that because it meant my job was a LOT easier.
  12. jakewriter82

    jakewriter82 Active Member

    Well sorry to burst your bubble, but she's not a teacher....:-( although I've talked to some dipshit teachers here, too.
    It's interesting in that the assistants, at least at the first practice, were running the practice more than her. She was just sortof "there."
    She's the head coach, though, so I'm going to quote her, although one of the assistants is a quote machine so I'll probably talk to him, too.
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