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Word added to quote in my story - Big deal?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Shifty Squid, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    So I do frequent freelance work for one publication. Late last week, they published a feature story I wrote. In it, there was a quote from a freshman high school athlete. The way I wrote the quote (this isn't the exact quote, but it'll give you an idea of what I mean) is ...

    "I know I'm good enough," Freshman McYoungster said. "I'm only 15 minutes from Tahoe."

    He said the "I know I'm good enough" part at the end of an answer to one question. Then, I asked him another question, and his answer was the "I'm only 15 minutes from Tahoe" part. So I separated the two but put them in the same graf.

    When the story was published, though, the quote looked like this ...

    "I know I'm good enough," Freshman McYoungster said. "And I'm only 15 minutes from Tahoe."

    Now, obviously, adding the word "And" doesn't change the fundamental meaning of what he said or anything. But I do feel like it at least implies he said the two parts as one sentence, when he didn't. And that implies more of a relationship between the two parts than there was.

    It's odd. It's just such an innocuous change that I wonder why it was made. What I'm wondering is, should I say something to my editor about it? Is this a big deal at all, or is it something I should just let go? Quote just seem sacred, and this is the first time I've noticed this happening to me. I'm not really mad about it or anything, just a little confused and hate for the athlete to think I mis-represented what he said/how he said it. Any thoughts?
  2. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    It didn't change the context of the quote necessarily, did it?

    Still, it's a superfluous word that copy editors are supposed to remove, not add.
  3. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Seems like a strange addition, but you did write it as if it was one thought. The editor probably assumed the quotes were connected.
  4. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    The only change in the context was that it made it sound like a continued thought when they were actually answers to two different questions. But it didn't change the meaning of anything he said, really.
  5. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    Too much editor tinkering.
  6. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    It's fabrication. You should make a big stink about it, threaten to sue or something.
  7. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    If the two statements -- "good enough" and "Tahoe" -- weren't said in the same thought, they shouldn't have been chained together in the same graf. Doing so implies that it was one complete thought, and you confirmed that it wasn't.

    That said, what the editor did was wrong (albeit inconsequential in the big picture). No editor ever should add anything to a quote unless there's an obvious word that was dropped by the reporter. And, even then, the editor should contact the reporter to be sure.

    I see 50/50 culpability in this case.
  8. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    That's fair, though I've heard different thoughts about this from different people. I've had editors tell me it's OK to separate thoughts if you end the first one with the "Smith said" designation, then tack on afterward. I've talked to other guys who said that was only OK if the two quotes were actually said in that order with nothing in between, as was the case here. And I've talked to others who were OK with basically cutting and pasting quotes however, as long as they were accurate quotes and it didn't change the meaning of what was said.

    So my experience has been that there are different schools of thought on this. But I certainly get what you're saying.
  9. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    Blue font, I assume?

    If so, no reason to be sarcastic. Like I said, I'm not angry, and I'm not going apoplectic about it or anything. My thinking to this point has been to just let it go. But I thought I'd come here and see if it was a bigger deal than I've been thinking. If not, I'm OK with that. After all, it is just one small word. It's just unusual.
  10. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    "I know I'm good enough," McYoungster said.

    "I'm only 15 minutes from Tahoe."

    Problem solved. I would never put two sentences that weren't said together sequentially like that. At least break them up as paragraphs, or use ellipses or something.
  11. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I just like giving bad advice.

    If it were me, I'd be pretty annoyed. But with it being freelance work, I probably wouldn't say anything.
  12. Shifty Squid

    Shifty Squid Member

    I can see that. Like I said, I've heard different schools of thought on that, but you may very well be right. If so, I'll gladly take whatever amount of blame I should for writing the quote in that manner. Perhaps you could say I invited the "And" to be placed in there by writing the quote like that. Still seems odd to me that they'd assume he said "And ..." but I can accept that. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
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