Sunday, August 03, 2008

Overquoting

Continuing our theme this morning of excessive verbiage, let's turn next to the shibboleth that we absolutely must have a quote to back up the lede.

'Tain't so. And too often it appears in police and sports stories where the quotes often are insipid anyhow. Case in point from today:
Spartanburg police said Saturday night that a homicide victim was not the intended target of a Friday shooting.

Spartanburg Public Safety Department Lt. Ron Cantrell said Arthur Lee Webb, 20, was caught in the wrong place when multiple shots were fired.

"We don't feel like the gentleman that was shot was the intended victim," said Cantrell, adding that a motive still was not clear.

Webb was shot about 8 p.m. Friday at Bradford Grove apartments, 2096 E. Main St., and died at the scene.

If you do this, is there any loss of meaning, understanding or authority for the lede:
Spartanburg police said Saturday night that a homicide victim was not the intended target of a Friday shooting.

Public Safety Department Lt. Ron Cantrell said Arthur Lee Webb, 20, was caught in the wrong place when someone fired several shots. A motive remained unclear, Cantrell said.

Webb was shot about 8 p.m. Friday at Bradford Grove apartments, 2096 E. Main St., and died at the scene.

[I also like "when someone fired several shots" instead of the passive and cop-speak "when multiple shots were fired" -- it's ulikely the shots fired off by themselves accidentally or that an animal did it; we can fairly safely say someone had to pull a trigger. But you may disagree out of an abundance of caution. I even find the "remained unclear" that I used to tighten to be a but cop-speak. Perhaps just "was not clear" or "was unclear." The "still" or "remained" has a bit of impatience to it.]

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