"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Hey Misquote!

"Hey Misquote! Is the Weekly Wipe out yet?"
Back in the years BCP (before cell phones), most of us who traveled, especially in the full-sized vans, installed CBs so we could talk back and forth, just like the big truckers. And of course, everybody had to have a "Handle." You always wanted something cool, like Bert Reynolds' "Bandit," but most were a lot less romantic, and some friends' kidding took hold.
That's how I ended up with "Misquote" when I owned a weekly newspaper. It irritated me the first time a fellow businessman used it, but it was the good-natured, humorous banter all of us used in that small town. So it stuck, and I started using it on my CB.
Why did it irritate? Because I'm a journalist and I know how everyone hates to be misquoted, and suspicious of the press for its inaccuracies. We take it too lightly.
When you misquote someone you're actually stealing or violating a part of their identity--forgetting Jesus' words about "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks," and I learned that early in my journalistic career.
We don't spend enough time emphasizing accurate reporting of people's words, and need to pay attention to the effective use of quotations in our writing.

(You have just read the first draft of the lead for my monthly column in The Oklahoma Publisher.)

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