Bad Journalism + Biased Editor = The Gray News

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Selective quotation belittles

June 23, 2006 Ray Clark wrote:

“Upham brought up six "hot buttons" he wanted action on: the Library roof; the heating conversion at the Public Safety Building; the sale of the Post Office building; radon abatement in several Town buildings; the merit pay issue; and a checklist for agritourism qualification. The list of Council "action items" extends well beyond these six, but Upham wants progress on at least these.”

Why is hot buttons in quotes? Either a major portion of the sentence should be quoted or none at all with a paraphrase. Highlighting “hot buttons” belittles.

Read the difference:

Ray Clark wanted more ads for his “newspaper” but so far has been unable to get them.

Ray Clark wanted more ads for his newspaper but so far has been unable to get them.


Ray Clark says he is “an editor” but he has no experience in journalism and no professional affiliations.

Ray Clark says he is an editor but he has no experience in journalism and no professional affiliations.


Next; Alison Libbey also wanted certain items addressed at the next council workshop, but Mr. Clark chose not to bring out her issues. Was that so he could make fun of Mr. Upham’s? Choosing to highlight only Mr. Upham’s issues, putting them in quotes, and failing to mention another councilor’s concerns is biased because it does not truly reflect the breadth of the discussion and it belittled one councilor’s issues while failing to highlight another’s.


  • They're called scare quotes, and the editor of that "newspaper" does know how to use them effectively.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:45 AM  

  • Cool!!! I never knew that. I only knew it bugged me. Here's Wikipedia's entry on scare quotes.

    In journalism, scare quotes are quotation marks used for any other purpose than to identify a direct quotation, such as for emphasis or irony.

    Although the term's connotation is not necessarily negative, an author who uses the term scare quotes to describe them generally does so disapprovingly. The effect of using scare quotes is similar to inserting 'so-called' to modify a word: in both cases, the object is to express disagreement with the word, but only by calling attention to the word without actually explaining why the author disagrees with it. For this reason, scare quotes are sometimes called "sneer quotes"

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 11:54 AM  

  • Hmmmm, thanks for the info!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:42 PM  

  • I thank anonymous, who solved for me an 8 year lingering issue, whereupon I knew I did not like minutely selective quotation but did not know why.

    By Blogger BiasBuster, at 4:32 AM  

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