Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oops! Louis Charbonneau forgets the scare quotes

Reuters correspondents are adept at employing quotation marks to distance themselves from the words of those they cite.  As in... he said it; not me.  In many cases, particularly when Israeli officials speak, Reuters quotation marks take on a more, shall we say, editorial tone.  As in... he said it; don't you believe it!  We call these scare quotes because they're used to express the writer's own mocking skepticism for what is being said by the party cited.

Funny however, that when a Reuters correspondent agrees with the party being cited, no quotation marks at all appear:
(Reuters) - Turkey said on Friday it will seek to prosecute all Israelis responsible for crimes committed during an Israeli raid on a ship bound for the Gaza Strip that killed nine Turks in May 2010.
Note how Charbonneau slyly conveys as fact, the Turkish allegation implicit in its statement, that Israelis committed crimes.  Charbonneau could have much more accurately and responsibly, bracketed the Turkish government statement with quotation marks.  Had the tables been turned and a similar statement been issued by the Israeli government, experience shows Charbonneau would have gone even further, bracketing the word "crimes" to demonstrate his derision for an unproven and questionable allegation.

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