End double quotes

22 Mar

Journalism is a space-limited medium as well as a time-limited one. There’s never enough time to get on top of the whole story, and then never enough space to write down what you found out anyway. Every minute and every word counts.

So it’s important to not do things like this:

Picture 17

You understand a writer’s desire to prepare the ground for readers. In a longer story, there’s also sometimes a need to put the key phrase in the opening par and then repeat the whole quote, for context, later on. And you grasp that journalism’s modus operandi is to expound and then support – to announce the news, then the quotes to back it up.

But Ten Minutes Past Deadline says it is “never necessary” to put a partial quote in the sentence that introduces that quote: “It is never necessary to put a partial quote in the sentence that introduces that quote.”

Most of the time, you can just delete the whole introductory clause: the quote is usually clear enough on its own. That solution certainly works well here: just go straight from “… chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said…” to “Sedition charge…”. On occasion – say when an opaque piece of diplomatic-speak needs to be translated for a lay audience – a preliminary paraphrasing may be helpful. But there is never, ever a need to run an identical phrase in two consecutive sentences of a news story. As HeadsUp has been at pains to point out for many years, “an inch less foam is an inch more beer”.

One Response to “End double quotes”

  1. HiIMakeStuff March 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm #


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