Monday, June 20, 2005

But what to do with e-mail quotes?

After that last post in which I questioned tampering with written quotes, it's worthy to note that Bill Walsh has raised a special case: What do you do with quotes from e-mail?

I think Walsh (who thinks written quotes should be as inviolate as I do), has some practical advice in this:

E-mail is the medium, not the message, and informality in spelling, capitalization and punctuation in e-mailed answers is akin to pronunciation in spoken answers. All this, for me, hinges on the verb "said." Whether you must disclose "said in an e-mail interview" is an issue for your publication's masters (Do you say "said in a telephone interview"?), but once you frame your quote in terms of "said" rather than "wrote," you become a literate transcriber rather than a photocopier.
But, as he notes, it's also important to distinguish between e-mail sent to you in an interview and e-mail exchanged between others, which becomes a written record.

His full musings are at both his Blogslot and at The Slot's Sharp Points, which he infrequently files now that he blogs.


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