Fixing grammar? Or sloppy transcribing?

Honest journalistic question time:

When you transcribe a suspect’s words from a video for a text piece, do you clean up their grammar?

This is the example I spotted last night: wcbstv.com – ROUND 2: Wild Knife Fight At NYC Deli

“All I know is my wounds are deep,” explained 29 year-old Arno Ortho.

But that’s not what he said.  His exact line was, “All I know is my wounds is deep or whatever.”

The “or whatever” thing grates on me, but I can understanding cutting it out.  But changing the incorrect second “is” to “are” is just changing the quote and bad journalism.

One thought on “Fixing grammar? Or sloppy transcribing?

  1. When I was in journalism school for those two brief quarters, we were told that we quoted words EXACTLY or we paraphrased them without a quote. One or the other. No clean-ups.

    This is just bad journalism. The person who wrote it needs to go back to school. But then, most “journalists” nowadays need some schooling on their trade.

    I got out of journalism because I cared too much about the people I was expected to report on, which made it impossible for me to even pretend to impartiality. With today’s standards, maybe I should’ve stayed in. I’d be better at the technical and ethical bits than these guys.

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