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quoting from e-mails?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by henryhenry, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    is there a standard practice?

    i read this in derrick goold's SMG interview:

    Q. What's your paper's policy about using e-mails in interviews?

    A. My experience is that you write it was from an e-mail. There are times you are sent a statement via e-mail and you write what the person said. If it's an e-mail in and of itself you write that it came from an e-mail.

  2. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I've always been told that you quote it as an e-mail.
    "Our team was awful last night," coach Hopscotch said in an e-mail. "I'm considering calling up some of the JV girls as replacements."
  3. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    how can you be certain coach Hopscotch sent it?

    or is it 'reader beware' when you cite it as an e-mail quote?
  4. I used to have a coach who would send me an e-mail recap of his soccer team's games every night. If I needed a gamer, I would pull out the interesting parts, call the opposing coach to check details, and write a short story based on his e-mail. He would often include commentary (his e-mails were rambling, stream-of-consciousness diatribes) so I would occasionally quote him.

    I never felt the need to write, "We really sucked out there," coach Assbag said in an e-mail. I mean, the readers don't give a fuck where you got your information, they only care that you got it. I did what I could to make sure all the facts were correct and left it at that.

    I mean, how specific do we have to be in our attribution?

    "We really sucked out there," coach Assbag said in a post-game interview.

    "We really sucked out there," coach Assbag said in a telephone interview the day after the game.

    "We really sucked out there," coach Assbag said while smoking meth in the bathroom of a local gas station.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    This is an interesting one. Normally, if an interview is conducted via email, I would expect it to be noted in the story.

    Now if you did a prep roundup item from an email a coach sent in, you wouldn't note that. So why would you attribute the quotes to an email?
  6. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    That's a fair point, because I don't attribute roundup material to e-mails, and I don't get specific about when and where my in-person interviews take place. Bottom line for me is I exhaust all other avenues before resorting to e-mail interviews. But if it can't be avoided, I generally mention it in the story. Maybe not in every quote, but something like: Coach Hopscotch couldn't be reached by telephone, but he did respond to an e-mail. (Or some variation thereof).
  7. Never. Ever.
    You don't know the provenance of the e-mail.
    Screw it. Talk to me or be "unavailable for comment."
    Your choice.
  8. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I guess my theory that Fenian is also thebiglead is now shot.
  9. tenacious_g

    tenacious_g Member

    We have a copy desk person at my paper who always inserts the day and method of interview in stories... and she mostly does features and book review stuff. Our asst. sports editor did a book review the other day for the weekend and she asked when and how he did the interview of the author and she inserted, for a story that is publishing on Sunday, "some quote here" author so-and-so said in a telephone interview on Monday.

    I'm not sure if that is necessary at all and I don't know that readers care.

    As for the e-mail, I would say quoting in an e-mail is somewhat like trusting sources. First, you need to be certain it isn't an address you've never received anything from. That can't be trusted. But if its a person you conduct regular e-mail correspondence with, I don't have a problem, other than making certain they know they're being quoted. I certainly don't take the time or effort to be as clean in my e-mail writing (or SportsJournalists.com postings) as I would if I knew I was being quoted in an article. Maybe I should, but I don't. And if it were an in person interview, the coach would know he or she is being quoted and give their words more thought... maybe.

    I'm not certain readers care what method you get a quote, but it's on the reporter to verify the authenticity.
  10. tenacious_g

    tenacious_g Member

    Actually, I'll add to that. Anytime I quote a prepared statement or press release when not in an interview, I do reference that.

    "Some quote" coach so-and-so said in a prepared statement. Or in a statement releaesed from the university.

    But in any form of my interviewing (e-mail, in person or phone) I don't know that it is necessary to specify.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    One reason for noting a quote is from a release from the school is that you are alerting your readers that this quote was likely whitewashed by PR flacks. In fact, it may well be written for the person supposedly being quoted.

    A reason for noting that an interview was done via email is to signal to your readers that perhaps the person is hip and busy and that it's possible the quotes were scrubbed or written by his personal assistant.

    Those are different from face to face interviews where the language and tone may be completely different.
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I confirmed a trade via text message.

    I texted him. I said, "Is the trade happening? Please call me back...

    He texted me back. "It's happening, crazy shit yo? At the airport, see ya..."

    It made the paper as

    Player X confirmed the trade by text message from the airport. "It's happening." X said.

    This was a guy I dealt with a lot, so I trusted him. I'd also had on the record quotes from his agent, but it's always better to have the player.

    Obviously, make sure this is someone you trust. I'd trust a text message before I'd trust an email.
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