Sunday, January 4, 2004

Meanwhile, the Times Public Editor Ponders ...

... Quotes in and out of context. The New York Times' Daniel Okrent makes some excellent points.

A good paragraph:

"Whether plucked from a press conference or a barroom conversation, quotes are not just reported - they're selected. Subject goes on at length; reporter picks a few especially revealing, juicy or simply interesting sentences; presses roll; and, later, the subject cries, ''Taken out of context!" But except when a newspaper prints verbatim transcripts, all quotations are taken out of context. The context is the actual conversation or press conference in which words get uttered; the printed pages of a newspaper can only rudely duplicate it."