Friday, October 22

PressThink: He Said, She Said, We Said

PressThink: He Said, She Said, We Said from PressThink, a blog by NYU's Jay Rosen. The subject came up recently in reference to our coverage of a panel attended by an industry figure known for being colorful and delivering straight talk. I wanted more who and why: a more thorough briefing on the rhetorical triangle of the statements made, which you need to fully evaluate and appreciate them.

I get prickly on this point, which crops up fairly often in a business where one pays--and earns--by the word. It's often easiest to let the words of an interview subject speak for themselves, and even carry the exposition of the story. I hear the argument that to do otherwise would be to "editorialize." But unless you run a transcript of the interview or panel--in which case you would need only a tape recorder and a typist, not a reporter--there's no use pretending you're not trying to boil it down and put it in context merely by selecting the meaty parts and leaving out the yada yada yada. And when you're talking to some tech geek speaking in shorthand while drawing on an imaginary whiteboard, you need to make judicious use of paraphrase for the sake of your earthling readers.

Isn't that exactly what your reader wants? You put in the hours and kilowatts of mental energy so the reader gets the straight gist in a 30-second read. And if you sense possible shennanigans, you give the reader enough instant replay to make the call themselves.


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