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Quoting yourself in a story: IndyStar Indiana State Fair stage collapse edition

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by franticscribe, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    The Indy Star's music reviewer, David Lindquist, was at last night's Sugarland concert to write a review when the stage collapsed on the crowd. Naturally he contributed significantly to the reporting. This morning's story carries a double byline with Robert King and Lindquist, and a contribution line from 8 others.


    About 12 inches into the story appears this nugget

    This just comes across as incredibly strange to me. Quoting him in a story on which he shares the byline just doesn't seem right at all. Why not have him write a first-person account if these quotes are things you can't write into the story to make it clear they were witnessed by the reporter without resorting to self quoting?
  2. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    It is odd.

    But in breaking news of a tragedy near print deadline, these wires get crossed pretty easily. I would guess he was phoning it in to the office, then he went out and did some more legwork and the first story, for the web, was pushed to the bottom of the next-day print story when some of it should have been sliced.

    The stage collapsed at 8:44 p.m., so that gives the paper about an hour and a half (maybe less) to get an accurate, encompassing report from a chaotic situation in which their only guy on the ground is an arts writer, who certainly was capable but not exactly sourced up in the emergency services sector. The story had scope (worst state fair accident since 1963 when a propane explosion killed 74 people), pertinent info on the emergency response and several eyewitnesses other than Lindquist.

    In the list of mistakes that could have been made, this ranks pretty low.
  3. 1HPGrad

    1HPGrad Member

    Star did a really nice job from the moment the stage fell.
    Late news, smaller weekend work force, Colts also playing.

    You can look it up, but that could have come from DL's Twitter feed. He was constantly updating throughout.
    Unless someone else was assigned another Fair story, it's likely he was the only reporter at the Fairgrounds when the stage fell.

    Good lesson for HS sports reporters too. You need to know your away around hospitals, rescue crews, etc., because your Friday night football game can turn into a broken neck/player paralyzed story on any snap.
  4. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    The rule of thumb for me: If I'm at the site, I'll call the desk and try to pitch in at the same time. Or, if I'm out of town at an event, try to tip off the paper that something just happened.

    I don't think it was awkward at all that the music critic is in the center of the story helping out. Could make for a compelling piece.
  5. Fran Curci

    Fran Curci Well-Known Member

    Sounds like the reporter in question did a fine job. Ideally, if you quoted the reporter you would not give him a byline. Within the story you could use him as a source as you would any witness.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Yep. I'm thinking he was quoted by the original reporter, and somewhere during the rewrite process, they decided that he was contributing so much that he deserved a piece of the byline, but the other didn't get edited -- and they probably had a desk of like three putting out the whole paper. So shit happens on deadline, basically.
  7. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Consider, too, it was Saturday night, and there was probably a skeleton crew on the desk. Scary to think what would have happened in a smaller town and copy editing outsourced to a regional desk.
  8. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Saturday nights were always our biggest, with all but one or two people working on the desk whenever possible, at my former (not quite as large as Indy) Gannett daily. In addition, had something such as this happened, we'd have asked one or two extra people to come in and help. I don't know how Indy runs things, but I do know Gannett loves "making Sundays special."
  9. 1HPGrad

    1HPGrad Member

    At the bigger shops, the Sunday 1A cover is largely built Friday. That's why Saturday news desk staffs are smaller, fewer managers, usually no MEs, never an EE. Heavy lifting was done during the week. You're polishing on Saturday. Smaller shops probably live closer to a day-by-day, but that's how it's done at the big shops.
    To blow up a big boy Sunday cover on deadline is impressive.
  10. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    Lindquist was all over the story from the moment it broke, especially on his Twitter feed.

    I saw that he was quoted under his byline, too, but assumed that it was a mistake in the hasty process of throwing a major breaking story together on deadline where little information was getting out and everything was very fluid (which the Star has covered very well). Looks like the desk bylined him because he did so much reporting, but King did the writing and quoted Lindquist.
  11. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    Very good point. If you cover preps, it's worth your while to spend a slow Tuesday afternoon with your paper's cops reporters to learn about these things.

    For example, in your town do the firefighters double as the EMTs? Important to know, because if a player is taken in an ambulance your follow-up call is to the fire department.

    Also, learn what a watch commander is, the names of the local hospital PIOs, and learn how the cops reporters are scheduled so you know who to call for help on a Friday night should a situation arise.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    A guy I worked with used to cover golf tournaments he played in at a smaller paper. Problematic in a variety of ways, one of them that he was VERY good and sometimes won the tournaments. So how's that work, I asked? His byline was his real name and he referred to himself by his nickname in the copy.

    So we had an interesting "ethical debate" one day.

    If you are quoting yourself, do you have to actually say it out loud? Or can you just think it and that counts?

    What a great luxury, huh? You're writing about yourself, you need the perfect quote. Just say it!
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