Changing quotations

One of the continuing practical problems that arises often in the nation’s newsrooms is how to handle direct quotations.

Sometimes they contain profanity. Sometimes they don’t make sense, but they are said by someone important in the story, and reporters and editors must consider using them anyway. Sometimes they sound one way said aloud and appear to mean something different when in print. And sometimes they are spoken by people who are not used to being quoted by the news media, and they have language that is not normally found in a news story.

Such as the case with the quotes “They was good friends” and “They killed my young’un for slam nothing.”

Reporters and editors at the Raleigh News and Observer struggled with those, and their struggles resulted in an interesting column by the newspaper’s public editor.

(Posted Aug. 8, 2006)

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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