Words They Never Say

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Now, I'm not an aspiring journalist, so this may be a rather dumb, na├»ve question, but how did Stockton get such great quotes?  Clearly she wouldn't print the boring ones, but, as someone who's written features before, sometimes there only are boring ones.  "She's like an angel," "I'm just constantly amazed at what is accomplished," "She believes the kernel of good in each person will ultimately prevail."  OK, the only way I would get one of those quotes would be to stand next to my interviewee, eagerly clutching my notebook and pen, and ask, "So, would you say she's like an angel?" or "Are you just constantly amazed at what is accomplished?" And, getting a slightly scared nod, I would scribble gleefully away. 

Though, I suspect that's frowned upon.

Stockton showed one great quality of a journalist; the ability to find the right quotes to support your story.  I think we can all agree that this profile wouldn't have been nearly as convincing if there were not snippets of verbal agreement sprinkled through it.  Quotes make a profile believable.  Let's face it, if we hear about a supposedly great person, our first reaction is usually doubt.  Hearing that, no, really, other people think this person is amazing, too, helps strengthen the reporter's authority. 

3 Comments

Angela Palumbo said:

Your blog scounds a lot like mine. I think we were on the same page here. Her quotes are fantastic and I don't know how she got them (I suggested the use of steriods on my blog) but I'm jealous. Maybe she just set the reader up with a really great and pointed question. That's my guess. Or maybe she just got really, REALLY lucky.

Josie Rush said:

Maybe if you ask enough questions, let people ramble on long enough, you'll find something worth printing. Or maybe it was the steroids.

Jessie Krehlik said:

From past experience, getting quotes that are *that* good rarely happen to me in person. Maybe my questions just aren't earth-shattering enough. I dunno. But I do know this: Every time I've conducted interviews through emails, I've gotten some fabulous quotes--mostly because email interviewing gives the interviewee the opportunity to word their answers perfectly, and it takes away some of the stress of needing to think on-the-spot for a good response.

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