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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writing Quote: Quotes in Pieces of Journalism

Thousands of editors have told thousands of reporters that quotes will add essential liveliness to a story, and at the same time help cover your posterior: If someone else provides the information, you don't have to stand by it. Yet as tempting as thet can be, after-the-fact quotes are anti-literary. They can take the reader away from the moment in question in some vague and indeterminate present in which the quote is uttered. They take the journalist away from his or her voice. And they take away from the writing the deep-down appeal of once-upon-a-time storytelling. Compare: "I knew I had to get out of there," said firefighter Ken Jones with Jones knew he had to get out of there. The first is boilerplate; the second, a cobblestone in the road to art.

Ben Yogoda, The Sound On The Page, 2004 

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