I've been misquoted, now what?

I hate it when I flub an answer. That means I messed up. When I see an interview on TV or read a quote in the paper where I so visibily dropped the ball… it’s almost painful. I hate it.

Almost as much as I hate that, I hate being misquoted. It irritates me, reminds me that I don’t have control over what is being said, over what ultimately is provided to readers and viewers.

Misquotes happen. (I should have t-shirts made.) No matter how diligent you are, how much you check and double-check what you say, misquotes happen.

A few months ago I did an interview with a reporter from a wire service. We spoke on the phone, she sent me her questions via email so I could do some research on them, and I responded the same way.

I had my search bots look for this particular article for a few months… and nothing. No article ran that I could find. Then out of nowhere, there it was, in a little nothing paper on the West Coast.

This was beyond misquote, she got my name wrong. Consistently wrong. How hard is it to cut and paste my name from the email she sent me (where the email address is firstname.lastname@companyname.com) or from the one I sent her (with my full signature, name, title, etc.)?

Of course, she also got my quotes wrong. I think she was trying to paraphrase and used quote marks. At least I hope that’s what she was trying to do.

It wasn’t bad, really. The info was basically the same. The tone was a bit different, but it didn’t change the overall message.

All in all, not that big a deal. At least I don’t think so.

(I don’t really mind that my name was wrong, though I should.)

I have a colleague who believes that all misquotes, no matter how small, should be corrected. She will call the reporter and insist on a correction. Sometimes the reporters go through with it, but more often it just makes them upset and makes her next interaction with them more difficult.

I’m more laissez faire about this (for lack of a better term). If the quote basically says what I intended it to say, I let it go. Unless there’s factual information wrong, I don’t take it up with the reporter. And, yes, that does mean that sometimes I let it go when the tone of the quote is different than what I intended.

I do keep track of this, though. And I make certain that I keep this in mind the next time I do something with the reporter in question. Depending on the relationship I have with the reporter, I may or may not mention that (last time) the quotes weren’t quite what I said and I’d be willing to verify any quotes before they go to press this time, just in case. More than one reporter has taken me up on this offer, ensuring that his or her info is always correct (although I’m not always happy with the quotes they choose).

My colleague thinks I’m insane. She wants her quotes to be right, every time. I think that takes too much energy and will impede my ability to do my job. It will impede my ability to serve my clients.

What do you do?

Author: Paloma Cruz

Find out more about Paloma Cruz through the About page. Connect with her on Twitter (www.twitter.com/palomacruz) and (Facebook).

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