The Art of "Quotemanship" and "Misquotemanship"

Quoting people accurately is really hard — and you can quote me on that.

Don’t Be Afraid….to check a quote with the source


Quotes are not only reported. They are sometimes—often, really–used by journalists to elicit responses from newsmakers. Accuracy is important in either case.
The fragile nature of quoting and quote-retelling surfaced during a postgame press conference Sunday May 19, 2013, after the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers. Fortunately in this case, the journalist, Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, and Claude Julien, head coach of the Boston Bruins, got to the bottom of it and established what exactly the coach had told defensemen Torey Krug when he came up to the Bruins.
To set the stage, a bit, defenseman Krug (right) had just had a locker-room session with reporters and told them that Coach Julien had told him upon his arrival to not be afraid of making a mistake while on the ice. [I’m not sure EXACTLY what Krug said; I watched it on TV amid the postgame interviews but cannot find it on the Web this morning.]
Buckley had evidently heard the comment and wanted Julien to elaborate on that advice. It turns out that Buckley had misunderstood or misheard Krug. However, he had the good sense to let Julien know he might have misunderstood Krug’s statement. Here’s how the 22-second exchange went, beginning at about the 2:27 mark in this video from the NHL site.

Steve Buckley: Krug was saying, just a few minutes ago, he said that the one piece of advice you gave him was—I’m paraphrasing–something along the lines of, ‘Don’t be afraid to be scared, don’t be scared.’ When you tell a kid that arent you fearful he will be scared?

Claude Julien: No. I said, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” You know, I don’t want him playing on his heels, and in other words I told him, I said, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, go out there and play your game.” So that was basically, Steve, what I told him when he first got here. ….. [He elaborates on the point}…

The message about fear and mistakes was the major thrust of Steve’s article in today’s Herald [shown above]. Fortunately Steve didn’t run with his original idea of what Krug had said or he might have jumped down a rabbit-hole of analyzing the fear of fear–surely drawing quotes FDRoosevelt or Freud.

In this context, the “don’t be afraid” message applies to journalists as well as rookie defenseman. Steve was not afraid to let Julien—and the assembled post-game scribes—to know he might not have gotten Krug’s original statement right. He went to the source. Kudos to him.
No time in the penalty box.

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