There are lots of ways to get in trouble when being quoted in the media. One is to be misquoted. Even more dangerous is to be quoted correctly — but not fully.
The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. over the weekend reported that they erred a couple weeks ago in a “pull quote” that put former Israeli foreign minisiter Tzipi Livni in an awkward position.
“Pull quotes” are excerpts from an article which typically are placed on the same page as a story in a large or graphically distinctive font to entice people to read the whole story.
In a January 24th story about some leaked documents concerning the explosive settlements issue, The Guardian included a pull quote from Livni saying:
“The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”
Livni said those words…and they sound like a damning admission of bad-faith bargaining. Unfortunately….the newspaper omitted her preamble which said:
“I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible….
Combined, the two statements have an entirely different meaning than the one which first appeared in the Guardian.
How can you guard against publications like The Guardian doing this to you? It is very hard.
Such mishaps can occur either as a result of incompetence on the part of editors — or as a result of deliberate disinformation.
As a general rule — you are better off not articulating the views of your opponents — to lessen the likelihood of being put in Livni’s position.
Short of that — officials and their staffs need to be vigilant about spotting such errors and demanding speedy corrections. The Guardian’s “correction and clarification” came almost three weeks after the original mistake — and was buried on page 40 of the newspaper. The original mistaken pull quote appeared on page 4.
“Never let the facts get in the way of a good quote”
— Old newspaper adage