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Interviews Speeches Courts

=178. Four Types of Stories
To the casual newspaper reader the
various patterns of stories seem all but limitless. To the experienced
newspaper man, however, they reduce themselves to seven or eight, and
even this number may be further limited. The popular impression comes
from the fact that the average reader places an automobile collision and
a fire under different heads. Yet for the newspaper's purposes both may
be classed under the head of accidents. For the sake of convenience in
this study, therefore, we may group under four heads all the news
stories that a beginner need be acquainted with in the first year or so
of his work: interviews; accidents, society, and sports, to which may be
added for separate treatment, rewrites, feature stories, and
correspondence stories.

=179. The Interview Type
In the present chapter will be discussed the
interview type of story, in which are included not only personal
interviews, but speeches, sermons, toasts, courts, trials, meetings,
conventions, banquets, official reports, and stories about current
magazine articles and books. These are all grouped under one head
because they derive their interest to the public from the fact that in
them men and women present their opinions concerning topics of current
interest, and that for newspaper purposes the method of handling
interviews is much the same as for the other ten.

=180. Lead to an Interview
The lead to a news story of a personal
interview may feature any one of the following: (1) the name of the
person interviewed, (2) a direct statement from him, (3) an indirect
statement, (4) the general topic of the interview, (5) the occasion, or
even (6) the time. Probably it is the name of the man or a direct
statement that is played up most often. If the former is featured, the
lead should begin with the speaker's name and should locate the
conversation in time and place. Such a lead may well include also either
a direct or an indirect statement, or a general summary of the
interview. Thus:

Professor George Trumbull Ladd of Yale, in an
interview for The Herald to-day, declared there
never had been a time in the history of the world
when there was a greater need for the enforcement of
international law, nor one when international law
was so much in the making as at present.

If a significant statement is of most importance in the interview, the
lead should begin with the statement, directly or indirectly expressed,
and continue with the speaker's name, the time, place, and occasion of
the interview. Thus:

"What has happened in Mexico is an appalling
international crime," declared Theodore Roosevelt
last evening at his home on Sagamore Hill, Oyster
Bay, L.I. He had been out all the afternoon in the
woods chopping wood, and was sitting well back from
the great log fire in the big hall filled with
trophies of his hunting trips, as he talked of the
recent massacre of American mining men in Chihuahua.

The most damnable act ever passed by Congress or
conceived by a congressman, was the way in which
William J. Conners of Buffalo to-day characterized
the La Follette seamen's law. Mr. Conners is in New
York on business connected with the Magnus Beck
Brewing Company, of which he is president.

=181. Statements of Local Interest
Almost always it is well,
if possible, to lead the person interviewed to an expression of
his opinion about a topic of local interest, then feature that
statement,--particularly if the statement agrees with a declared policy
of the paper. Usually a problem of civic, state, or national interest
may be broached most easily. If the city is interested in commission
government or prohibition, if the state is fighting the short ballot or
the income tax question, the visitor may be asked for his opinion. If
the guest happens to be a national or international personage and the
nation is solving the problem of preparedness, or universal military
service, or the tariff question, he may be questioned on those subjects
and his opinions featured prominently in the lead. Note the following
lead to an interview published by a paper opposing the policies of
President Wilson:

Declaring that the national administration's foreign
policy has made him almost ashamed of being an
American citizen, Henry B. Joy, of Detroit, Mich.,
president of the Packard Motor Company, a governor
of the Aero Club of America and vice president of
the Navy League, said yesterday that our heritage of
national honor from the days of Washington, Lincoln,
and McKinley is slipping through our fingers.

=182. Inquiring about the Feature
Often the feature to be developed
in an interview lead may be had by asking the one interviewed if he has
anything he would like brought out or developed. When the interview has
been granted freely, such a question is no more than a courtesy due the
prominent man. But only under extraordinary circumstances should a
reporter agree to submit his copy for criticism before publication. Many
a good story has had all the piquancy taken out of it by giving the one
interviewed an opportunity to change his mind or to see in cold print
just what he said,--a fact that accounts for so many repudiated
interviews. In nine cases out of ten the newspaper man has reported the
distinguished visitor exactly, but the write-up looks different from
what the speaker expected. Then he denies the whole thing, and the
reporter is made the scapegoat, because the man quoted is a public
personage and the reporter is not.

=183. Fairness in the Interview
The first aim of the interviewer,
however, must always be fairness, accuracy, and absence of personal
bias. No other journalistic tool can be so greatly abused or made so
unfair a weapon as the interview. One should make no attempt to color a
man's opinions as expressed in an interview, no matter how much one may
disagree, nor should one "editorialize" on those ideas. If the paper
cares to discuss their truth or saneness, it will entrust that matter to
the editorial writers. This caution does not mean that a writer may not
break into the paragraphs of quotation to explain the speaker's meaning
or to elaborate upon a possible effect of his position. Such
interruptions are regularly made and are entirely legitimate, and it
will be noted in the Bryan story on page 131 that most of that article
consists of such explanation and elaboration. If, however, the reporter
feels that the utterances of the speaker are such that they should not
go unchallenged, he should obtain and quote a reply from a local man of

=184. Coherence and Proportion
Next to accuracy there should be kept
in view the intent to make the sequence and proportion of the ideas
logical, no matter in what order or at what length they may have been
given by the one interviewed. Often in conversation a man will give more
time to an idea than is its due, and often the most important part of an
interview will not be introduced until the last. Or, again, a person may
drift away from the immediate topic and not return to it for some
minutes. In all such cases it is the duty of the reporter to regroup and
develop the ideas so that they shall follow each other logically in the
printed interview and shall present the thought and the real spirit of
what the man wanted to say.

=185. Identifying the One Interviewed
Probably the most used and the
easiest method of gaining coherence between the lead and the body of the
interview is by a paragraph of explanation regarding the person, and how
he came to give the interview. It is remarkable how many readers do not
remember or have never heard the name of the governor of New York or the
senior senator from California or the Secretary of the Navy, and it is
therefore necessary to make entirely clear the position or rank of the
person and his right to be heard and believed. In the following story,
note how the writer dwells on the rank of the Oxford University
professor as a lecturer and so inspires the reader with confidence in
his statements:


"Look at our modern dress. Both men's and women's
costumes are, on the whole, as bad as they can be."

Prof. I. B. Stoughton Holborn of Oxford University
is in Chicago to deliver a series of lectures on art
for the University of Chicago Lecture Association.
In an interview Saturday afternoon he vigorously
ridiculed modern dress.

Prof. Holborn is perhaps the most widely known of
the Oxford and Cambridge university extension
lecturers and has the reputation of being one of the
most successful art lecturers in the world. He is
the hero of an adventure on the sinking Lusitania.
He saved Avis Dolphin, a 12-year-old child who was
being sent to England to be educated. The two women
in whose charge Mrs. Dolphin had sent her daughters
were lost, and Prof. Holborn has adopted the

=186. Handling Conversation
It should not be necessary to caution a
newspaper man against attempting to report all a man says. "Condense as
often as possible" is the interviewer's watchword,--"cut to the bone,"
as the reporters express it. Much of what a man says in conversation is
prolix. In that part of the interview that is dull or wordy, give the
pith of what is said in one or two brief sentences, then fall into
direct quotation again when his words become interesting. As a rule,
however, it is well as far as possible to quote his exact language all
through the interview, since the interest of an interview frequently
rests not only in what a man says, but in the way he says it. This does
not mean a cut-and-dried story consisting of a series of questions and
answers, but a succession of sparkling, personal paragraphs containing
the direct statements of the speaker.

=187. Mannerisms
The report may be livened up greatly with bits of
description portraying the speaker and his surroundings, particularly
when they harmonize or contrast with his character or the ideas
expressed. An excellent device for presenting the spirit of an
interview--giving an atmosphere, as it were--is to interpolate at
intervals in the story personal eccentricities or little mannerisms of
speech of the one interviewed. Mention of pet phrases, characteristic
gestures, sudden display of anger, unexplainable reticence in answering
questions, etc., will sometimes be more effective than columns of what
the speaker actually said. Indeed, it is often of as much importance to
pay as close attention to incidentals as to the remarks of the one

=188. Persons Refusing to Talk
In nine cases out of ten it is the
reporter's duty both to keep himself out of the story and to suppress
the questions by which the man interviewed has been induced to talk. But
when he has failed entirely in gaining admission to one he wishes to
interview, or, having gained admission, has not succeeded in making him
talk, the would-be interviewer may still present a good story by
narrating his foiled efforts or by quoting the questions which the great
man refused to answer. One of the most brilliant examples that the
present writer has seen of the foiled interview was one by Mr. John
Edwin Nevin the day before Mr. William Jennings Bryan surrendered his
portfolio as Secretary of State in President Wilson's cabinet. The
nation was at white heat over the contents of the prospective note to
Germany and the possibility of the United States being drawn into the
war. Not a word of what the note contained had leaked from any source
and there had been no hint of a break in the Wilson cabinet. Supposedly,
all was harmony. Yet this correspondent, judging from the excited manner
of the Secretary of State, the sharpness of his noncommittal replies,
and his preoccupied air as he emerged from the cabinet room, scented the
trouble and published the following story hours before other
correspondents had their eyes opened to the history-making events
occurring about them:


Washington, D. C., June 8.--President Wilson at 1:15
this afternoon announced, through Secretary Tumulty,
that at the cabinet meeting to-day the note to
Germany "was gone over and discussed and put in
final shape, and it is hoped that it will go
to-morrow," but Secretary of State Bryan is
determined to fight for a modification right up to
the minute that the note is cabled to Berlin.

Bryan believes the United States is on record for
arbitration and that it would be a mockery to send
Germany a document which, he considers, savors of an
ultimatum. Although the majority of the cabinet was
against him to-day, he carried his persuasive powers
from the cabinet meeting to the University Club,
where he and his fellow members had lunch.

Bryan's attitude came as a complete surprise to the
President. In previous notes Mr. Bryan took the
position that the United States should invite
arbitration. He called attention to the fact that
this country is on record as unalterably opposed to
war and pledged to every honorable means to prevent

But in every instance he has stopped short of any
further fight when the note has been approved by the
majority of the cabinet. And the President expected
that he would do this to-day. In fact, before the
cabinet meeting it was stated that the note would
have the approval of all members of the cabinet.

The first intimation that anything was wrong came
when the Secretary did not show up at the executive
offices with the other cabinet members. His absence
was not at first commented upon because Count von
Bernstorff, the German ambassador, was at the state
department. However, it was soon ascertained that
the ambassador was conferring with Counselor

Then it was rumored that Secretary Bryan had sent
word to President Wilson that he would not stand for
the note as framed. Inquiry at the White House
revealed the fact that Secretary Bryan had sent word
that he would be in his office, working on an
important paper, and would be late. At the state
department, Eddie Savoy, the Secretary's colored
messenger, refused to take any cards in to Bryan. He
said he did not know whether his chief actually
intended attending the meeting.

"He is very busy, and I cannot disturb him," Eddie

At the White House a distinct air of tension was
manifested. All inquiries as to what Secretary Bryan
was going to do were ignored.

Finally, about 12 o'clock, Secretary Bryan left his
office and came across the street. His face was
flushed and his features hard set. He responded to
inquiries addressed to him with negative shakes of
the head. He swung into the cabinet room with the
set stride with which he mounted the steps of the
Baltimore platform to deliver his famous speech
attacking Charles F. Murphy and Tammany Hall, and
precipitating his break with Champ Clark, whose
nomination for the presidency up to that time seemed

For more than an hour after he reached the cabinet
room the doors were closed. Across the hall the
President's personal messenger had erected a screen
to keep the curious at a distance.

At last the door was thrown open with a bang. First
to emerge were Secretaries McAdoo and Redfield, who
brushed through the crowd of newspaper
representatives. They referred all inquiries to the
President. Secretary of War Garrison came out alone.
He refused to say a word regarding the note. There
was an interval of nearly ten minutes. Then
Secretaries Daniels and Wilson came out. Behind them
was Attorney General Gregory, and, bringing up the
rear, was Secretary Bryan. Bryan's face was still
set. His turned-down collar was damp and his face
was beaded with perspiration.

"Was the note to Germany completed?" he was asked.

"I cannot discuss what transpired at the cabinet
meeting," was his sharp reply.

"Can you clear up the mystery and tell us when the
note will go forward to Berlin?" persisted

"That I would not care to discuss," said the
Secretary, as he joined Secretary Lane. "I am not in
a position to make any announcement of any sort now.
I will tell you when the note actually has started."

Ordinarily, Secretary Bryan goes from a cabinet
meeting to his office, drinks a bottle of milk and
eats a sandwich. To-day he entered Secretary Lane's
carriage and, with Lane and Secretary Daniels,
proceeded to the University Club for luncheon.

It is understood that Secretary Bryan took to the
cabinet meeting a memorandum in which he justified
his views that the proposed note is not of a
character that the United States should send to
Germany. He took the position that the United
States, in executing arbitration treaties with most
of the countries of the world, took a direct
position against war. As he put it, on great
questions of national honor, the sort that make for
welfare, arbitration is the only remedy.

Secretary Bryan is understood to have urged that the
United States could stand firmly for its rights and
not close the doors to any explanation that
Germany--or any other belligerent--might make. It is
understood that Bryan pointed out that Germany had
accepted the principles of the arbitration treaties
as a general proposition, but failed to execute the
treaty because of the European War breaking out. Her
opponents enjoy the advantages under such a treaty,
and Secretary Bryan insisted that Germany should not
be denied the same rights....

Although Secretary Bryan will continue his efforts
to modify the note, persons close to the President
insist that he will fail. The President is said to
have decided, after hearing all arguments, that the
safest course is to remain firm in the demand that
American rights under international law be
preserved. And it is expected that when the note is
finally O. K.'d by Counselor Lansing, it will be
sent to Germany.

There is speculation as to whether Secretary Bryan
will sign the note as Secretary of State. He has
angrily refused to take any positive position on the
subject. If he should refuse, his retirement from
the cabinet would be certain. Bryan's friends insist
that he has been loyal to the President and has made
many concessions to meet the latter's wishes. They
believe that he will content himself with a protest
and again bow to the will of his chief. But there
was no way of getting any confirmation of this
opinion from Bryan.

This is the first serious friction that has
developed in President Wilson's cabinet. Politicians
declare it will have far-reaching effect. Bryan has
fought consistently for arbitration principles. And
he now considers, some of his friends think, that
they have been ridden over rough-shod.[19]...

[19] John Edwin Nevin in The Omaha News,
June 8, 1915.

The next morning President Wilson announced his acceptance of Mr.
Bryan's resignation as Secretary of State.

=189. Value of Inference in the Foiled Interview
The reporter who
would attain success in his profession should not fail to study with
care this story by Mr. Nevin, to learn not so much what the story
contains as what the person who wrote it had to know and had to be able
to do before he could turn out such a piece of work. One should analyze
it to see how startlingly few new facts the correspondent had in his
possession at the time he was writing, and how he played up those
lonesome details with a premonition of coming events that was uncanny.
Above all, the prospective reporter should observe with what rare
judgment and accuracy the writer noted in Mr. Bryan's demeanor a few
distinctive incidents which were at once both trivial and yet laden with
suggestions of events to come. To produce this story the writer had to
know not only a man, but men. A cub would have got nothing; this man
scooped the best correspondents of the nation.

=190. Series of Interviews
In a story containing a number of
interviews, let the lead feature the consensus of opinion expressed in
the interviews. Then follow in the body with the individual quotations,
each man's name being placed prominently at the beginning of the
paragraph containing his interview, so that in a rapid reading of the
story the eye may catch readily the change from the words of one man to
another. When there is a large number of such interviews, the name may
even be set in display type at the beginning of the paragraph. If,
however, the persons interviewed are not at all prominent, but their
statements are worth while, the quotations may be given successively and
the names buried within the paragraph.

=191. Leads for Speeches
In comparison with handling an interview, a
report of a speech is an easy task. In the case of the sermon or the
lecture, typewritten copies are almost always available and the
thoughts are presented in orderly sequence. So if the reporter has
followed the advice given in Part II, Chapter VII, and taken longhand
notes of a speech, or has not been so engrossed in mere note-taking that
he has been unable to follow the trend of the speaker's thought, he will
experience comparatively little trouble in writing up the speech. He may
begin in any one of a half-dozen or more ways. He may feature: (1) the
speaker's theme; (2) the title of the address, which may or may not be
the theme; (3) a sentence or a paragraph of forceful direct quotation;
(4) an indirect quotation of one or more dynamic statements; (5) the
speaker's name; (6) the occasion of the speech; or (7) the time or the
place of delivery. Any one of these may be played up according to its
importance in the address.

=192. Featuring a Single Sentence
Of the seven or eight different
kinds of lead, a quotation of a single sentence or a single paragraph is
happiest if one can be found that will give the keynote of the speech or
will harmonize with a declared policy of the paper. Thus:

"It is the traitor god Love that makes men tell
foolish lies and women tell the fool truth," said
Prof. Henry Acheson last night in his lecture on

"The devil has gone out of fashion. After a long and
honorable career as truant officer, he has finally
been buried with his fathers. That is why twentieth
century men and women don't attend church." Such was
Dr. Amos Buckwin's explanation yesterday of the
church-going problem.

=193. Random Statements
Emphasis should be laid on the value of
playing up in the lead even a random statement if it chances to agree
with a specific policy or campaign to which the paper has committed
itself. In a non-political address or sermon an unwary statement
touching national, state, or city politics makes an excellent feature
if it favors the policies of the paper. Its worth lies in the fact that
it is manifestly unprejudiced and advanced by the speaker with no
ulterior motive. On the other hand, such a statement may well be ignored
if opposed to the paper's political or civic views. For example, note in
the following lead a feature played up solely because the paper was
Democratic in its politics:

"I was a student in one of the classes taught by
Woodrow Wilson. Anyone who has ever seen the lower
part of his facial anatomy knows that when he says
'no' he does not mean 'yes,'" said Bishop Theodore
Henderson at the Methodist Church yesterday morning.

It was not a political sermon. Aside from what
political significance the above quotation might
have, there was nothing political about his
discourse. He brought it out in referring to the
President doing away with the inaugural ball in
1915, which he nearly classed as a drunken orgy run
by politicians. He was emphasizing the President's
"no," that his family would not be present even if
he himself had to attend.

As in this story, however, the writer must be careful always to make
clear the precise relation of the featured quotation to the speech as a

=194. Indirect Quotation
The chief reason for quoting indirectly in
the lead a single statement of a speaker is the need of shifting an
important point to the very first.

That an inordinate indulgence in mere amusement is
softening the fiber of the American nation and
sapping its vitality, was the statement of Allen A.
Pendel, president of the Southwest Press Company, at
the monthly meeting of the Crust Breakers, Saturday.

=195. Title Featured
The use of the subject of the speech as a
feature is advisable when it is particularly happy or when it expresses
the theme of the address.

"The National Importance of Woman's Health" was the
subject of Dr. A. T. Schofield's lecture at the
Institute of Hygiene, Wednesday.

Taking as his subject, "The Tragedy of the
Unprepared," the Rev. Otis Colleman delivered a
powerful attack in Grace Church Sunday against
unpreparedness in one's personal life and in the
home, the state, and the nation.

=196. Theme Featured
The theme may be featured when a single-sentence
quotation cannot readily be found and the subject does not indicate the
nature of the address.

Condemnation of the twentieth-century woman's dress
was voiced at the Ninth International Purity
Congress by Rev. Albion Smith, Madison, Wis., who
spoke on "Spirit Rule vs. Animal Rule for Men and

=197. Summary Lead
Oftentimes the theme lead shades into a
summarizing lead and the two become one of indirect quotation. Long
summarizing leads of speeches are to be avoided as a rule, since they
are liable to become overloaded and cumbersome. When using this lead,
the writer must be particularly careful to see that the individual
clauses are relatively short and simple in structure and that the
relation of each to the other and to the sentence as a whole is
absolutely clear.

Stating that the public schools are the greatest
instrument for the development of socialism in this
country, that the socialists must get control of the
courts, that the party is not developing as rapidly
at present as it did a few years ago, and that the
opportunity that exists in this country for the
individual has been largely to blame for the slow
development of the Socialist party in America, John
C. Kennedy, Socialist speaker and member of the
Chicago common council, spoke on "The Outlook for
Socialism in America" at the Social Democratic
picnic held in Pabst Park on Sunday.

=198. Speaker's Name Featured
The speaker's name comes first, of
course, only when he is sufficiently prominent locally or nationally to
justify featuring him.

Billy Sunday made the devil tuck his tail between
his legs and skedaddle Friday night.

Justice Charles E. Hughes, of the Supreme Court of
the United States, came to New York yesterday as the
guest of the New York State Bar Association, which
is holding its thirty-ninth annual meeting in this
city. In the evening at the Astor Hotel he delivered
a scholarly address before that body on the topic,
"Some Aspects of the Development of American Law."
Then he shook hands with several hundreds of the
members of the association and their friends, turned
around and went right back again to the seclusion of
the Supreme Court Chamber in Washington.

=199. Featuring the Occasion
Featuring the occasion of a speech or
the auspices under which it was given is justifiable only when the
speech and the speaker are of minor importance.

Before the first hobo congress ever held in the
world William Eads Howe, millionaire president of
the convention, spoke Monday on the need of closer
union among passengers on the T. P. and W.

=200. Featuring Time and Place
Only rarely is the time or the place
featured. But either may be played up when sufficiently important.

Speaking from the door of Col. Henry Cook's chicken
house on Ansley Road to an audience of 250 colored
brethren in a neighboring barn, the Rev. Ezekiel
Butler, colored, began in a pouring rain Sunday
night the first service of the annual Holly Springs
open-air meetings.

=201. Featuring Several Details
When the speaker, the subject, the
occasion, and the place are all important, it may be needful to make a
long summarizing lead of several paragraphs, explaining all these
features in detail. In such a case a quarter- or a half-column may be
required before one can get to the address itself. The following story
of President Wilson's first campaign speech for reelection, delivered at
Pittsburgh on January 29, 1916, is an illustration:

Name first

President Wilson as "trustee of the ideals of
America," to employ his own phrase, has taken his
case to the people.


He opened here to-day the most momentous
speech-making tour perhaps made by a President
within a generation with an appeal to keep national
preparedness out of partisan politics and to give it
no place as a possible campaign issue.

Effect on Audience

The nonpartisanship urged by the President was
reflected in Pittsburg's greeting to the executive.

Circumstances and Place

A Republican ex-Congressman, James Francis Burke,
presided at the meeting under the auspices of the
chamber of commerce in Soldiers' Memorial Hall.
"Preparedness is a matter of patriotism, not of
party," he said.

Story backtracks here


Pittsburg's welcome to the President and Mrs. Wilson
was warm, but not demonstrative. When the
speechmaking began, Memorial Hall was packed with an
audience of 4,500, while on the steps and plaza
outside some 8,000 or 10,000 men and women surged,
unable to get admission, but eager to get a glimpse
of the executive and his bride.

Reception by Audience

When the presidential party, Mrs. Wilson in front,
filed on the platform there was a demonstration,
brief but spontaneous, the first lady of the land
drawing as prolonged applause as her husband on his

Attitude of Audience

The audience was an intent one. Its pose was one of
keen attention to the President's utterances.


Occasionally a particularly facile phrase, such as
when the President spoke of the need of "spiritual
efficiency" as a basis for military efficiency,
started the hand-clapping and gusts of applause
swept through the hall.

General Effect of the Visit

For Pennsylvania, Republican stronghold, which gave
Roosevelt a plurality of 51,000 over Wilson in 1912,
the reception accorded the President is regarded as
quite satisfactory. Downtown in the business
district there was hardly a ripple.

Inquisitive Crowds

But in the neighborhood of the Hotel Schenley, out
by the Carnegie Institute, a large crowd turned out
a few hours after the President's arrival and kept
their glances on the seventh floor, which was banked
in roses and orchids.

Beginning of the Speech

"As your servant and representative, I should come
and report to you on our public affairs," the
President began. "It is the duty of every public man
to hold frank counsel with the people he
represents."[20] ...

[20] Arthur M. Evans in The Chicago Herald,
January 30, 1916.

=202. Body of the Story
In writing the body of the story, the first
thing to strive for is proper coherence with the lead. This caution is
worth particular heed when the lead contains a single-sentence
quotation, an indirect question, or a paragraph of direct statement from
somewhere in the body of the speech. Few things are more incongruous in
a story than a clever epigrammatic lead and a succession of quoted
statements following, none of which exhibits a definite bearing on the
lead. Oftentimes this incongruity is produced by the reporter's attempt
to follow the precise order adopted by the speaker. Such an order,
however, should be manifestly impossible in a news report when the
writer has dug out for use in the lead a lone sentence or paragraph from
the middle of the speech. Rather, one should continue such a lead with a
paragraph or so of development, then follow with paragraphs of direct
quotation which originally may or may not have preceded the idea
featured in the lead.

=203. Accuracy
The second consideration must be the same accuracy
and fairness that was emphasized in the discussion of the interview.
Some reporters, for instance, take the liberty of putting within
quotation marks, as though quoted directly, whole paragraphs that they
know are not given verbatim, their grounds for the liberty being that
they know they are reporting the speaker with entire accuracy, and the
use of "quotes" gives the story greater emphasis and intimacy of appeal.
This liberty is to be condemned. When a reporter puts quotation marks
about a phrase or clause, he declares to his readers that the other man,
not he, is responsible for the statement exactly as printed. And even
though a man may think he is reporting a speaker with absolute
precision, there is always the possibility that he may have
misunderstood. Indeed, it is just these chance misunderstandings that
trip reporters and frequently necessitate speakers' denying published
accounts of their lectures. Only what one has taken down verbatim should
be put within quotation marks. All else should be reported indirectly
with an unwavering determination to convey the real spirit of the
lecture or sermon, not to play up an isolated or random subtopic that
has little bearing on the speech as a whole. Any reporter can find in
any lecture statements which, taken without the accompanying
qualifications, may be adroitly warped to make the story good and the
speaker ridiculous in the eyes of the reading public.

=204. Speech Story as a Whole
The story as a whole should be a little
speech in itself. Whole topics may be omitted. Others that possibly
occupied pages of manuscript and took several minutes to present may be
cut down to a single sentence. Still others may be presented in full.
But the quotation marks and the cohering phrases, such as "said he,"
"continued the speaker," "Mr. Wilson said in part," etc., should be
carefully inserted so as to make it entirely clear to the reader when
the statements are a condensation of the speaker's remarks and when they
are direct quotations. Such connecting phrases, however, should be
placed in unemphatic positions within the paragraph and should have
their form so varied as not to attract undue attention. And as in the
interview, the report as a whole should be livened up at intervals with
phrases and paragraphs calling attention to characteristic gestures,
facial expressions, and individual eccentricities of the speaker's
person, manner, or dress.

=205. Series of Speeches
When reporting a series of speeches, as at a
banquet, convention, political picnic, or a holiday celebration, it
generally is the best policy to play up at length the strongest address,
or else the speech of the most important personage, then summarize the
remaining talks in a paragraph or so at the end of the story. If all are
of about equal importance, the lead may feature the general trend of
thought of the different speakers or else some single startling
statement setting forth the character and spirit of the meeting. The
story may then proceed with summarizing quotations or indirect
statements of the individual speakers, giving each space according to
the value of his address. Where the body of the story is made up of
direct and indirect quotations from several speeches, the speaker's name
should come first in the paragraph in which he is quoted, so that the
eye of the reader running rapidly down the column may catch readily that
portion of the story given to each person quoted.

=206. Banquets, Conventions, etc
Not always, however, are speeches
important, or even delivered, on these social, political, and holiday
occasions. If not, the reporter must devote his attention to the
occasion, to any unusual incidents or events, or to the persons
attending. In reporting banquets, it may be the persons present, the
novelty of the favors, the originality of the menu, or the occasion
itself that must be featured. In conventions it may be the purpose or
expected results, certain effects on national or state legislation, or
any departures or new ideas in evidence. In reporting conventions of
milliners, tailors, jewelers, and the like, one can always find
excellent features in the incoming styles. The public is greedy for
stories of advance styles. In political picnics the feature is
practically always the speeches, though sometimes there are athletic
contests that provide good copy and may be presented in accordance with
Part III, Chapter XVI. In holiday celebrations also the feature may be
speeches or athletic contests, or else parades of floats, fraternal
orders, soldiers, etc. Usually, however, the occurrence of some untoward
accident that mars the occasion itself furnishes a story feature of
greater importance than the monotony of the parade and the contests.

=207. Current Magazine Articles, etc
News stories of articles
appearing in current magazines, books, government publications,
educational journals, and the like are of the same type as stories of
addresses. The lead may feature the theme, the title, the author, a
single sentence, an entire paragraph, the society or organization
publishing the article or report, or even the motive back of the
article. And the body follows usually with direct quotations summarizing
the whole. Such news stories generally are very readable, particularly
if they are timely. But the reporter must be careful to avoid extended
analysis or learned comment. A long catalogue of errors with the page on
which each may be found is good in scholarly magazines, but worthless in
news columns. The reporter's office is to write for the entertainment
and enlightenment of the public, not for the instruction of the author
about whose article he is writing. Hence he should report only those
details that are of interest to the readers of his journal.

=208. Courts
Court, trial, and inquest stories are but a combination
of the methods of handling interviews and speeches, the questions and
answers of the attorneys and witnesses being the interviews, the
arguments of the lawyers and the decisions of the court being the
speeches. The writing of the court story as a whole follows closely the
method already outlined for interviews and speeches. The lead, however,
varies greatly accordingly to the stage of the court proceedings. If a
verdict has been brought in, the guilt or innocence of the defendant,
the penalty imposed, or an application for a rehearing may be featured,
and the body of the story continues with a statement from the prisoner,
quotations from the speeches of the opposing attorneys, and the judge's
charge to the jury. If the trial has reached only an intermediate stage,
the lead may feature the cause of the court proceedings, a significant
bit of testimony, the name of an important witness, the point reached in
the day's work, the probable length of the trial, any unusual clash of
the attorneys over the admission of certain testimony, or possibly the
prisoner's changed attitude resulting from the long nervous strain. Then
the body, as in reports of speeches, may follow with interesting bits of
quotation from the testimony or from the arguments of the attorneys,
with summarizing paragraphs of the evidence and the proceedings as a
whole. Occasionally, in order to bring out significant points in the
depositions, it may become necessary to quote verbatim questions and
answers in the cross-examination, but generally a more readable story
may be had by reporting the testimony continuously and omitting the
questions altogether. Even when playing up a court decision, it is
rarely wise to quote large extracts verbatim, owing to the heaviness of
legal expression and the frequent use of technical terms. Only when the
form of the decision, as well as the facts, is vital, should the
language of the decree be quoted at length. And even then it is better,
as a rule, to print the entire decision separately and write an
independent summarizing story. When writing up trials continued from
preceding days, one must be careful to connect the story with what has
gone before, explaining who the persons are, the cause of their
appearance in court, and where the trial is being conducted. Only in
this way can readers who have not kept up with the trial understand the
present story.

=209. Humorous Court Stories
A word of caution must be given against
the temptation to write court stories humorously at the expense of
accuracy and the feelings of those unfortunate ones drawn into public
notice by some one's transgression of law or ethics. The law of libel
and its far-reaching power has been dwelt on in Part II, Chapter X, and
it need not be emphasized here that libel lurks in wrong street numbers,
misspelled names, misplaced words and phrases, and even in accidental
resemblance between names and between personal descriptions. But the
reporter should be cautioned against warping facts for the sake of
making a good story. Those who stand before the bar of justice, no
matter for what cause, how wrong or how right, are keenly sensitive
about even the publication of their names. Indeed, it is fear of
newspaper notoriety that keeps many a man from seeking and obtaining
that justice which is due every individual at the hands of the law. The
present writer has seen many an innocent person in a state of nervous
collapse over a barbed thrust made by a satirizing humorist in the
columns of a paper. No criticism is made of true reports; objection is
made only to those warped for the sake merely of producing a good story.
In a leading Southern paper appeared the following:


Come er lef'! come er right! come er rag an'
Come to yo' honey-bunch straight down de hall!
Up towa'd de front do', back towa'd de wall,
Gimme room to scramble at de Potlicker Ball!

"What's this?" demanded the judge ferociously.
"Another Potlicker row? I'm going to have to do
something about you folks. You're always in hot

The defendants--a weird assortment of the youth and
beauty of the Black Belt, their finery somewhat
damaged after a night behind the bars--shifted
uneasily on their respective number nines. A
cross-eyed mulatto had the courage to speak, albeit
a trifle morosely.

"Us ain't in no hot water, jedge," she drawled. "Us
ain't been doin' nothin' but dancin'."

"What's your name, girl?" inquired the clerk.

He was answered by Frogeye, who celebrated his
latest release from gaol by attending the Potlicker
Ball. "Dat's Three-Finger Fanny," stated Frogeye in
a voice of authority. "She done start de hull

Three-Finger Fanny bridled. Before she could open
her mouth, Frogeye plunged into the tale: "Ef it
hadn't er been fo' dat three-fingered, cross-eyed,
blistered-footed gal we'd er been dar dancin' yit.
But she an Bugabear spill de beans. She come up ter
me an' say, 'Mister Frogeye, kin you ball de Jack?'
I tells her she don't see no chains on me, do she?
An' we whirl right in. Hoccome I knowed she promise
dat dance ter Bugabear? We ain't ball de Jack twice
'roun' fo' heah he come wid er beer bottle shoutin'
dat I done tuk his gal erway. I'se 'bleeged ter
'fend mahse'f, ain't I, jedge? Well, den!"

The conclusion of Frogeye's story lacked climax, but
apparently the judge got the gist of it, for he
said: "It seems to me all of you dancers need a
summer vacation. They say there's nothing like a
little arm work to improve the grip. Thirty days,

But every reader knows that in one round-up of negro malefactors,
characters such as Frogeye, Three-Finger Fanny, and Bugabear are not
going to be arrested at one "Potlicker Ball." The story is a good one if
the reader will suspend his sense of realism sufficiently to enjoy it.
But in its purport to be a true account of an arrest and a trial of
certain persons, it makes one doubt first the story, then the newspaper
that printed it, and finally newspapers in general. And so develops one
of the main causes of criticism of the modern newspaper. A reporter must
resolve to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A
journal loses its power the moment it is wrong.

Next: Accident Crime

Previous: Words

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