Posted in Steroid quote on Apr 19th, 2012
Things are heating up in Tennessee as residents of Dayton Mountain deal with the prospects of the return of deep-mining coal operations. A big article appeared (right) in the 8 April edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Nine days later, on the 17th of April, the CTFP corrected a quotation it printed from one of the people who are upset about the mining plans. Here’s the correction:
A story about planned coal mines in Rhea County in the Sunday, April 8, edition misquoted Dayton Mountain resident Linda Milliron. What Milliron actually said was misheard by reporter Pam Sohn. What she said was: “But now my dream is just gone, you know?”
The original article carried a double byline. The correction gave the name of the reporter who made the mistake. That’s kind of rare. What’s not rare is that the correction followed the very non-transparent practice of NOT reprinting the original error. In light of that, the correction begs a question about the way the quotation was presented. Here’s how the statement appeared on 8 April, in the article (shown above and at the right):
“This 200 acres is what I want to leave my children. But now my dream is just gone to hell. Nobody wants to live close to a coal processing plant.”
Somehow the “But now my dream is just gone, you know?” became “But now my dream is just gone to hell.” What did she say? Only a recording can reveal it for sure. (Did the woman complain because she was rattled to see such a statement as “gone to hell” in print?) It’s quite a leap from “…you know…” to “…to hell…” Without a recording, I guess “misheard” covers it.
As often happens to a quotation, the change adds strength and/or emotion and/or certainty to a statement. (Something I like to call a “steroid quote”.) The phrase “gone to hell” certainly adds some heat to the woman’s statement.
Adding to the misquote problem here is the way in which her over-heated statement was featured in the paper.
Yes, it appeared not in the article–buried on page A11.
The “gone to hell” quotation so impressed the editors that it was used as part of the design of the front page (see close-up at right). It’s under the main headline on the front page–in BRIGHT RED, just like some BURNING COAL.