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quoting bad speakers

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

  1. Big Buckin' agate_monkey

    Big Buckin' agate_monkey Active Member

    I've had coaches say after a quote, "Say that however you want to without making me sound like an idiot." ... I usually tell them they did fine.
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    You know, we've had this discussion a few times here, and most of us clean up quotes except when doing local "color."

    Interestingly, though, the AP is very explicit about this: No cleaning up quotes, ever: "If a statement is enclosed in quotation marks, it must be exactly what the speaker said. ... Grammatical and other errors are the speaker's problem, not yours."

    Right. Like AP never cleans up a quote from an athlete.
  3. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    I think there are cases when quotes should be cleaned up. The example that comes to mind would be athletes whose first language isn't English but who nonetheless try to accomodate reporters in English. My rule of thumb is that you shouldn't make someone look dumb in their second or third language.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    I find, too, that most of us clean up quotes a little.

    AP reporters are usually working with higher-priority sources who have a better understanding of (and often a more adversarial relationship with) the media, whereas the rest of us have to foster working relationships with regular citizens in our communities. It's just good business to understand your audience, and I think adhering to a strict "quote people how they speak" policy is not good business, in some cases.

    Then again, it's a case of "know the rules so you know when to break the rules" on our part. There's a line here, and you've got to know when it's appropriate to cross it and when it's not.
  5. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    I would say clean up the quotes, because when people talk they might just say things to get to the point quickly. If it was the superintendent of schools, that might be another matter.
  6. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    "I thought we, you know, came out with a lot of, well, you know, intensity tonight ... you know, it would have been easy for us to, you know, just let them keep dominating us like they were. But I just felt that, you know, we responded rather, you know ... nicely."
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Exactly...we all clean 'em up, and if you don't change meaning or intent or whatever, I've never been too concerned about it.

    I always hear the Larry Bird example. If he had been quoted like he really talked, you'd never get through a quote.
  8. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    Have fun, Minnesota men's basketball writers!
  9. Same with Michael Jordan, or so I've heard...
  10. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Is there anybody here that wouldn't clean up the above quote to read:

    "I thought we came out with a lot of intensity tonight. It would have been easy for us to just let them keep dominating us like they were. I just thought we responded nicely."

    Or would you just paraphrase it? Or not use it?
  11. read my stuff

    read my stuff New Member

    What the hell is wrong with all you people? You're coming on here as journalists, yet you're talking about breaking one of the sacred rules of journalism. If the person said it, that's what you print. Period. End of discussion. If you're changing quotes, you need to go back to ethics 101.
    The excuse of "that's what everybody is doing" is absurd. I'm not doing it; haven't in more than a decade in this business over thousands of stories. Oh, and if everybody jumped off a building ...
    If the quote sucks, use ellipses to include the parts that are OK or just paraphrase.
    I've been reading this board for years, and there are many peoples' handles on here who seem to have a good grasp of the right way to work in this business. But when even some of those people get on threads like this and claim it's OK to break one of our cardinal rules, it makes me wonder just what kind of shoddy journalism is being practiced in this country.
  12. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Tell us how you really feel.
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