What Makes a Reuters Journalist?

It is not our job to make people look good by cleaning up inelegant turns of phrase, nor is it our job to expose them to ridicule by running such quotes. In most cases, this dilemma can be resolved by paraphrase and reported speech.

Where it cannot, reporters should consult a more senior journalist to discuss whether the quote can be run verbatim. Correcting a grammatical error in a quote may be valid, but rewording an entire phrase is not.

When translating quotes from one language into another, we should do so in an idiomatic way rather than with pedantic literalness.

Care must be taken to ensure that the tone of the translation is equivalent to the tone of the original. Beware of translating quotes in newspaper pickups back into the original language of the source.

If a French politician gives an interview to an American newspaper, it is almost certain that the translation back into French will be wrong and in some cases the quote could be very different.

In such cases, the fewer quotes and the more reported speech, the better.

Reflecting reality
Accuracy means that our images and stories must reflect reality. It can be tempting for journalists to “hype” or sensationalise material, skewing the reality of the situation or misleading the reader or viewer into assumptions and impressions that are wrong and potentially harmful.

A “flood” of immigrants, for example, may in reality be a relatively small number of people just as a “surge” in a stock price may be a quite modest rise.

Stopping to think, and to discuss, how we use words leads to more precise journalism and also minimises the potential for harm.

Similarly, no actions in visual journalism should be taken that add to or detract from the reality of images.

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