Just got unexpectedly interviewed by Global News. Topic: Is social media ruining the English language? My answer: no.
Just you watch, everyone, they'll edit it to take whatever I say out of context and make it sound like I'm buying into the premise.
And after the piece appeared:
Yep, that's what happened:
You can watch the whole thing — "Proper grammar increasingly enforced on social media", Global News 8/20/2013 (this direct link may work, or look for Minna Rhee's report on "Social Media and Grammar" at the bottom of the page) — but here's how they used Aaron's bits:
Aaron can tell us whether the questions preceding his quotes were actually the ones he answered, but in any case, I expect that he experienced what Pascale Riché, the Washington correspondent for Libération in 2005, wrote about after a similar experience in 2005 (my translation — the original is here):
A journalist from the Washington Post interviewed me on the telephone about our annual Block Party (this consists of blocking the street and relaxing on the pavement for half a day). I responded to her at length, I told her about my discovery of the importance of community in the U.S., I cited Tocqueville, I made a digression about the bond created by children on the block and more broadly in American society…
What remained from all this in the paper? The following:
"Her neighbor, Pascale Riche, pulled all the tables from his house and lined them up in the street, so everyone could dine together banquet-style.
"It was perfect," Riche says. "I'm French, and in France we like to have conversation around a nice dinner.
I imagine in retrospect what went on in her head while we talked: "I wish he'd stop blathering on with his pop sociology… When is he going to tell me that he's French and that he loves food… Ah, there it is, he finally came out with it!"
The worst thing is that in her place, I would perhaps have kept the same idiotic quotation. My neighbor Ruth said to me yesterday evening: "So now you know what the people that you interview think of your articles!"
As I observed at the time,
This example is from a feature on block parties rather than from news articles on a sports championship, but the situation is the same one that I described in a recent post on the ritual role of material from interviews in stories on the NBA finals. The journalist knows what (s)he wants to write, and what sort of facts and quotes are needed in support, and therefore manipulates the person interviewed so as produce suitable copy — in this case mainly by selecting a few suitable fragments from a long interview. At least, that's Pascale's professional opinion about what happened.
In my experience — both personal and second-hand — science reporting often works pretty much the same way. The reporter may not approach an interview with the idea of learning more about the topic, much less providing an accurate characterization of the views of the person interviewed, but rather with the goal of getting suitable quotes to slot into a narrative that is already more or less in place.
Aaron's shorter version: "Just you watch, everyone, they'll edit it to take whatever I say out of context and make it sound like I'm buying into the premise."
Update — I asked Aaron whether his Q&A sequences in the broadcast were actually sequential, or rather involved some audio editing to slot his answers into the framework of the story. His answer:
Man, I don't even remember. The first soundbite was at the end of a long discussion on how people judge each other on the basis of sociolinguistic performance, but pay less attention to whether they're conforming to standards in informal contexts—so somebody misspelling words on Twitter or whatever (an informal context) is going to be exposing themself to that kind of negative evaluation. And the second soundbite was one of the times when I was saying something along the lines of 'this isn't anything special about the Internet; it's always been the case that people have to learn the standards for formal writing as a distinct register from informal discourse' (well, the new thing is just that there's a newly prevalent "informal writing" register, I guess, not that the formal-writing register has to be learned).
I'm going to translate that as "the broadcast questions and the broadcast answers were probably not adjacent in the original interview".
Some other relevant posts from the past: