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From America's Best Newspaper Writing:

"Place a good quote high in the story to create a variety of voices and a human focus" (Clark and Scanlan 292).

This quote I find especially helpful.  As a person who wrote for the newspaper in high school, I know that one of the things that I had a hard time with is the incorporation of quotes.  I never quite got their purpose for some stories.  But now I have finally gotten my answer.  Good quotes provide variety and another voice.  It makes it seem like you have done your work.  You have tried hard to get the best information available and give the reader a good view of the story.  Now to find that good quote...

A good example of the clever use of a quote is in "In His Own Hands" that appears on page C5 of Tuesday, August 25, 2009's edition of the Tribune Review.  In the third paragraph, Steeler cornerback admits what the article claims about him: that he cannot catch very well.  He said, "My personal goal is to catch the ball (this season) and make the Pro Bowl."  This angle shows that the author is not just an angry Steeler's fan that wants this man to learn how to catch.  He has noticed the excellent playing of this man, however, also points out where he falls short.  The fact that the player himself admitted his weakness provides strength to the journalist's article.

A bad example of this concept is seen in "Ghost enthusiasts could experience courtroom terror."  The second paragraph says, "'People have been going in there for years thinking they'll see a ghost or something.  But it's now owned privately and the family that owns that building no longer wants anyone going there,' said township ordinance officer Terry Giannini."  Although this quote does get the point across, it is long and rambling.  Instead, it would be better if the author would have maybe taken part of the quotation and then paraphrased the rest.  He could have said, "People have been going in there for years thinking they'll see a ghost or something," said township ordinance officer Terry Giannini.  He added that the property is now privately owned and the new owners do not want anyone going in there.  See the difference?

 

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4 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

I think that is also a great quote because it lets the reader understand what the article is going to be about and also it gives each reader a different viewpoint. The way a sentence is written can make all of the difference when someone is reading.

Greta Carroll said:

Not only is the quote from "Ghost enthusiasts could experience courtroom terror" long, it also almost seems to contradict the message of the story. The story is about keeping people of the property since it is owned privately and so people don't get hurt. The quote from Terry Giannini almost seems to undermine this. His comments about how "people have been going in there for years," makes it sound like "oh, people have been doing it for years, it's safe." In the second half of the quote he almost seems to have a critical tone towards the family wanting to keep people out. Of course, maybe I'm just reading that tone into it, but I agree with you, it is not a good use or selection of a quote.

Angela Palumbo said:

Greta, you made me think about the funny thing the press does. It draws attention to the things that shouldn't be drawn attention to. Did you ever hear those stories like "terrorists are getting through airport security and here's how"? That example is a bit extreme but you get the point. The people who own the property probably don't want the press either. People like you and me probably didn't know about this great ghost spot but now we do. Wanna go there for Halloween?

Greta Carroll said:

Good point, it does draw attention to a place that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. The headline for this story also actually confused me when I first read it. When I first read, "Ghost enthusiasts could experience courtroom terror," my first reaction was to assume that some local courthouse was giving tours while ghost stories were told about past cases or something along those lines. Ghost tours seemed more like news to me than the simple fact that some people trespass on these people’s property. They really are asking for even more trouble. Not all press is good…

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