Editor's Note

Qualms About Quotes

Not too long ago, the Tucson Weekly interviewed a subject who, when the paper hit the streets, decided she didn't like how she came off in print (or, for online readers, in pixels). She claimed, among other things, that the Weekly paraphrased her answers to questions that she was never asked, and that as a result, she sounded stupid.

However, this interview subject never contacted the reporter, or me, or anyone else involved with the Tucson Weekly to complain. Instead, she went on Facebook to air her grievances.

Because Tucson is a small town in many ways, her complaints eventually made their way to me. Now, I have several things to say in response.

First, claiming that a reporter is making stuff up is a serious accusation. That's potentially a job-costing accusation.

Second, if someone has a serious problem with a reporter or a newspaper's coverage, that someone should contact the newspaper. To whine on a social-networking site and not let the newspaper know that there's a potential problem is, to put it nicely, lame. It's also somewhat revealing.

I've been in this business long enough to know that when a person claims he or she was misquoted or improperly paraphrased, more often than not, the interviewee was actually quoted or paraphrased accurately. Sometimes, people get in trouble after their words show up in print/pixels, and use the misquote claim to try to deflect that heat. Other times, people read their quotes and don't like them, even though those quotes reflect exactly what was said. I've been quoted many, many times by other media, and I have often grimaced when I read my published quotes—not because I was misquoted, but because what I actually said didn't convey what I wanted to say, at least not in the polished way I wanted to say it.

Having said all that, sometimes, people are actually misquoted, and whenever that happens, it's important to contact the reporter and/or the editor ... not one's wall on Facebook.

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