Quoting the inarticulate

Almost every reporter has, at one time or another, come across this problem: they must quote someone who simply cannot speak well. 

The problem is that you want to quote the person, but the quote simply sounds bad. It either doesn’t make sense or doesn’t flow well. Your options are either don’t use the quote, paraphrase or ask the source to clarify (and hope they do in a more concise manner).

Poynter has a column on this exact topic, “How to handle quotes from inarticulate people.” It’s pretty good at explaining how to deal with the people who use “um” every other word.


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