Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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How To Quote

There's an art to quoting for print. Few of us talk in complete sentences. Between all the suspended thoughts and asides that become sentences of their own, a transcription of your average conversation looks like the ramblings of illiterates. That's one reason why interviewers are allowed to capture the sense of someone's comments without having to document them word for word. I generally use this leeway to make my interlocutors sound as smart as possible without inserting "content" words into the quotations I ascribe to them. But there are times when it's preferable to foreswear this type of cosmetic surgery:
Asked if he found it offensive that Mr. Rumsfeld had not personally signed condolence letters to families of military personnel killed in Iraq, Mr. Bush said he had ample evidence of the secretary's concern for those in uniform.

"He and his wife go out to Walter Reed and Bethesda all the time to provide comfort and solace," Mr. Bush said, referring to the Washington-area military hospitals that treat the most seriously wounded. "I have seen the anguish in his - or heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about, you know, the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way."
Obviously, the reporter could have rearranged the President's comments without breaking any journalistic rules. Sometimes, though, the will to beautify just isn't there. Is this an example of the "liberal media bias" whose existence the blue-minded typically deny? Perhaps. But the opposing forces are so overwhelming that I see no problem with taking opportunities as they come. It's not like anyone's lying here. I'm sure that is exactly what Bush said.

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