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Using "(subject) said" and when to break the rule

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by dawgpounddiehard, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but when I read this AP story on Roger Ebert, I cringed.


    In summary, Ebert wrote a letter published in the Sun-Times that he will return to reviewing movies, but is unable to speak. From there, the AP cites this letter using "he said" and, at times, referencing that "(he) said he's looking forward to his annual film festival."

    OK, young writers listen up, always use "(subject) said." No need to write "(subject) mused" or "(subject) boasted." Said works just fine.

    But in this case, would you have written "Ebert said" when, well, he really didn't say anything because he can't?!?!
  2. Overrated

    Overrated Guest

    According to the AP from last night's game, Ichiro "cracked" something...and it wasn't a bat or skull.
  3. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    I've used "said in an email" or "said in a letter" several times, which I guess in this case is what Ebert did.

    It does sound kind of unintentionally insensitive, though, sort of like writing that a blind man has "seen hard times" or that a wheelchair basketball team has "a leg up on the competition."
  4. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Good question, I think I would have used 'Ebert wrote', cringed, then got over it.

    I am the same way, I hammer it into my underlings to use "He said", not "said he" (ugh), or "he joked", "he etc".

    Said is fine.
  5. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    "Did you read the article on Mr. Smith?"

    "No. What did it say?"

    It didn't SAY anything, of course, but the definition of "to say" extends beyond the spoken word.

    Thus, once you establish that Ebert's piece is written, "he said" is fine.
  6. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    always said.

    if the person can't speak, he didn't "say" anything. if he wrote in a letter or wrote in an e-mail, then write that. geez, how difficult is it to crack that code? ??? :eek: :eek: ???
  7. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    WRONG!!!! :mad: :mad: :mad:

    writing and talking are two very different things. while i'm a fan of relaxed, conversational styles of writing, there are still RULES of conversational style.
  8. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I'm a big proponent of understand the rules, then break them carefully.

    Ninety-nine times out of 100, I'll use "said." I can think of two specific times in which I used something else:

    "I don't need to talk about it; you guys talk about it all the time," Columbus Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald snapped.

    "Take [Terrapins point guard Kristi Toliver] off Maryland, see what happens," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan seethed.

    I used those two roughly seven years apart.
  9. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    Maybe "we" know the rules, but the readers don't.

    After reading that, it just comes off wrong.

    "He wrote" or "said in an email" or something like that would have worked much better.

    Rules can be broken upon occasion. The world won't come to a screeching halt.
  10. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    The second definition of "say" in the dictionary is . . .

    "to express in words; state; declare"

    It does not --- repeat, does NOT --- demand that the expression be in spoken form.

    Thus, I am right. Don't like it? Change the dictionary.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Then can we go with "he verballed?" Or would it be "he oralled?"

    I get those confused.
  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Once agreed, no longer do. You establish one time how he's communicating, and then -- again, simply to me -- "said" is fine.
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