Actual Journalism Question (ATTN Brandon)

Quick thing, speaking as someone who stumbled into this position years ago without ever studying how to do Correct Journalism: When turning a spoken interview into a written piece, what’s considered the proper balance between preserving the exact wording of the conversation vs. rephrasing for clarity? How much is it your job to preserve the subject’s exact voice and language vs. smoothing out the occasional haphazard sentence construction or redundant word usage for the sake of more elegantly conveying what they’re meaning to say? What do you do when you’re not 100% certain of the intent behind some confusing language?

A basic rule of thumb for building feature articles around interviews:

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    if the specific wording of a particular statement is what makes it trenchant or memorable, then quote directly (with additional context where necessary)

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    if you're quoting a statement on a complex or dense issue that could be simplified for the sake of legibility, try paraphrasing around fragmented quotations

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    If a particular statement offers a broader, more general perspective or sentiment that can be smoothly summarised, don't be afraid to do so

  • RE: unclear/vague statements, all I can recommend is trying to secure follow-up questions up-front, or getting them to review the transcription as a pretext for asking follow-up questions if that's an option.