Handling Quotes
Fairly and
Accurately
Chapter 8
pgs.168-178
Quotes from Tom Osborne
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“It wasn’t a ho-hum thing, but our players
were confident they’d win tonight.”
“I think the players expected to win. It
wasn’t ho-hum. But it was matter-of fact.”
“I certainly didn’t think it would be a
blowout.”
“I didn’t think it would be a blowout.”
Quotes from Tom Osborne
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“I guess there’s still a place in college
football for a running quarterback. The
option still has a place in football.”
“This does point out the fact that there is
still a place in college football for a running
quarterback. We believe there is still a
place for the option.”
What do you think is wrong?
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At least one of the quotes in each pair has
to be wrong.
The coach could not have both quotes
attributed to him.
Does it matter? Do direct quotes have to be
word for word accurate? Is there no margin
for error?
What does this mean?
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The changes in what Osborne said were
quite harmless—but they are still
bothersome.
The world doesn’t really care if a word or
two is different in this case, but 100 percent
accuracy is always the goal.
Direct Quotation
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As a beginning journalist, you should pay
close attention to the skills involved in
handling quoted material.
When you enclose a sentence or part of a
sentence in quotes, you are telling your
readers that the words are exactly what the
speaker said.
This is seldom if ever reached.
Direct Quotation
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When people are speaking
extemporaneously, they say things like “ya
know,” “hmmmm,” “ahhhh,” etc.
You wouldn’t want to copy speech exactly.
The most important thing is to convey their
information—there is no information in “ya
know”
A question of exactness
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Most sources don’t care if they are quoted
exactly—they care that their thoughts and
ideas are conveyed accurately to the public
They do not care about their exact words.
Does this mean that journalists can just
come close? NO—you should always try to
be 100 percent accurate, especially in
certain circumstances.
Using a tape recorder
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Can be a great help when capturing
someone’s exact words is important.
If the source agrees, you may use the tape
recorder.
It is sometimes good to use a recorder
during speeches and meetings.
Remember to still take good notes!
When Not to Quote
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There are exceptions to using exact
quotes-quoting a 4-letter word is a good
example.
There’s also no need to reproduce bad
grammar-unless it is part of the person’s
character and would change you story if
you didn’t.
Paraphrasing
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Often paraphrasing is helpful. It is perfectly
alright to paraphrase a person’s words: to
put the speaker’s ideas into the reporter’s
own words. So, if a direct quote is long or
rambling or poorly stated, the writer may
revise it, knock off the quote marks, and
simply add “he said” or “she said” at the
end of the sentence.
Example
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“We are doing everything in our power at
police headquarters to see to it that there is
a parking place for everyone who drives to
school. We hope everyone involved will be
patient. We’ll work it out, I promise.”
This can be paraphrased:
Paraphrase of quote from Chief Jones
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Chief Jones said police are trying to find
parking space for everyone at school. He
urged patience and promised to find a
solution for the crowded lots.
Some words must be changed
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Example: “We decided to go to a movie”
must be paraphrased “They decided to go
to a movie”
Always say the country, the school, the
town, not our country, our school, our town.
Writing in first person injects the reporter
into the story; it amounts editorializing into
a story.
Paraphrase for Facts
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Quotes should not be used to convey facts.
Quotes make a story lively, give it a human
touch, let readers begin to understand what
a source is like.
Capture good quotes and use lots of them.
But paraphrase when you’re simply
conveying facts.
Avoid Repetition
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Do not present the same information as
both a paraphrase and a direct quote.
Example:
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The mayor promised today he would never
embezzle money from the city again.
“I will never embezzle money from the city
again,” the mayor said.
Partial Quotation
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One method to avoid the overuse of both
paraphrased material and long blocks of
quoted material is the partial quote. A
writer is free to directly quote part of a
sentence while paraphrasing the rest.
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The school needs a dress code, the principal
said, because the students are becoming “sloppy
in dress and sloppy in thought.”
Partial Quotation
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Beware that you do not carry this practice
to absurd extremes.
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Jones said he was “happy” after scoring the
touchdown.
These quotes add nothing but confusion.
These are not quotes that are quoteworthy.
Attribution
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Since it is not possible to really know what
people mean or feel or believe, report what
they say they mean or feel or believe.
Report what the person said and make a
point of saying who said it.
Examples: The superintendent said she will
resign. The police chief said Jones had
confessed.
Attribution
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The verb you use to indicate your source is
important: stated, declared, noted, pointed
out, and so on.
The BEST word to use is said.
It is neutral and contains no editorializing
and rarely becomes tiresome no matter
how often it appears in a story.
Words to Use
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Be careful which word you select when you
don’t use said.
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Stated is very formal
Pointed out should be reserved for absolute facts.
Charge, demand, shout, and other words like that
have editorial connotations.
Need for Attribution
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When you need attribution, where should
you place the “he saids” and the “she
saids.” In general they work best at the end
or in the middle of a sentence. In a long
quote, attribution should come at the first
logical point in the first sentence.
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Example: “Our students are mature,” Kuzinski
told teachers Tuesday, “but they do not always
act like it.”
Checklist for Interview Story
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Is the person being interviewed identified at the
beginning of the story?
Is the story a mix of text and interesting , relevant
direct quotations?
Are paraphrases used in place of rambling
speeches and lists of facts?
Are all important, controversial, or opinion-based
statements clearly attributed?
Is the story free from grammatical errors and
does it follow the AP stylebook?
Assignment
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As ten students you do not know well for
their opinion on a school issue, or an issue
that relates to students.
Write a story suitable for publication,
quoting all students correctly.
By the end of the block, have your topic
selected and your questions written.
By Wednesday, have your interviews
completed.
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Handling Quotes Fairly and Accurately