Misquoted in The Star (for Nuffnang party)

This is a bit old news by now since it happened three days ago.

But that’s the beauty of being a blogger. You can publish any old rubbish that the cat dragged in and no one can complain, because you’re not obliged to publish only fresh news like a newspaper is!

And reading blogs is free, so readers don’t really have a case for complaint, in the first place.

And you don’t have editors maniacally waving their editing scissors at you, threatening to cut away all your self-indulgent digressions.

But I digress.

The Nuffnang Pajama Party was covered by a reporter from The Star, which I’m told is Malaysia’s biggest English-language newspaper.

[The Star's report on Nuffnang Pajama Party]
Link to report.

The reporter (who shall remain nameless here, but whose name is prominently bylined in the article, anyway) interviewed me at the party and included my quote into her news report. That was really sweet of her, but I wish she’d been more conscientious about compiling her quotes.

Because I totally do not talk like this:

[Sheylara's quote in The Star]

Humour me now, please. Read that quote aloud to yourself.

Does anyone even talk like that?! I don’t think I speak long, convoluted sentences and I don’t recall ever using the phrase “as well as” in speech.

I never said I was there to “share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers”.

What I said was, “I’m honoured to be invited to this party! Nuffnang has been through a lot this past year and they’ve come so far. So, I’m really happy to be here to share the joy of celebrating its first anniversary!”

And then she asked me how I felt about the party so far, and I said, “Actually, I’m very pleasantly surprised because I never expected there would be so many games and activities and prizes. It’s great!”

I saw her furiously writing in her notebook while I was talking, so I tried to talk slower. (I was a journalist before so I know the woes of not being able to tape record an interview.)

When she was done furiously writing, I saw that she had only written keywords and not whole sentences.

Then she asked me a few more questions and I guess she didn’t like my answers because she stopped writing furiously.

And, in the end, she just took my bunch of keywords and created a bimbotic, totally unnatural, statement, out of them.

How can lah!

Okay, it’s not really that big a deal, which is why I’m talking about it only three days later. Celebrities and other famous people get misquoted all the time and to worse effect. Haha.

I guess I should just be glad that my reputation hasn’t been harmed.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I should thank the reporter for choosing to use my quote despite there being 300 other people for her to interview. I just wanted to highlight the fact that I don’t talk like she made me out to.

That’s all!

For the record, I actually prefer e-mail or MSN interviews because the reporter can cut and paste and is less likely to make up rubbish sentences for me.

What do you think?

17 thoughts on “Misquoted in The Star (for Nuffnang party)

  1. Avatar

    I prefer email and MSN too because it is clearer as I can always refer back to what I have said. I don’t like phone conversations especially when the reception is not exactly very good here and sometimes we can’t really hear each other that well…

    Haha anyway I think reporters are always like that. Your quote seems to be what the reporters would say rather than what you would say.

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    Well, I don’t think she misquoted you as

    1) quotes need to be cut short and formed in the shortest sentence with the closest meaning possible. You might have said 20 short sentences, but its not possible for the newspaper to publish all 20 short sentences, right?

    2) it could be the editors who made the changes even though she has quoted you exactly as what you have said.

    3) how and what we jot down in our notebooks are our own ways, and I don’t think its really right for you to critize her/us.

    3) being an ex-journalists yourself, shouldn’t you be more understanding about the whole situation instead of picking on another journalist?


  3. Avatar


    Errrr….reporter made you sound like a cheapo at a party because…..’as well as prizes to be won’. Gee…I’m taking your side. Not only this sounds like a bimbo but also a cheapo bimbo. Sorry, I know for a fact that you’re not a cheapo and will not turn up just for the prizes….Crap!

    ‘Share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers’???? That’s almost made me laugh aloud! Share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers does not equal to sharing the joy of celebrating its first anniversary! The meanings of the two phrases do not have the same meaning at all. Was the music too loud that it dulled her comprehension skills? Sorry….don’t mean to be so mean….but this is just too much!

    Another journalist,

    “quotes need to be cut short and formed in the shortest sentence with the closest meaning possible. You might have said 20 short sentences, but its not possible for the newspaper to publish all 20 short sentences, right?”

    Sure, I agree with that. But listening, writing and then publishing some thing that has a completely different meaning is not what I would say a great summarization skill or journalistic skill. Like I mentioned above, share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers does not equal to sharing the joy of celebrating its first anniversary. On top of that QY mentioned in her mini interview that Nuffnang has been through a lot this past year and they’ve come so far and that’s why she was glad to be there to share the joy of celebrating its first anniversary. Anyone with brains and analytical skills is able to tell the difference between the phrase that the reporter wrote and what QY actually said. Why the hell would QY want to share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers? I know QY well enough to think that she would be crazy to go all the way to KL just to share the joy of meeting fellow bloggers! Wonder what joy would she derive from that?

    Monster, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Avatar

    I always wondered why Malaysians speak so strangely when interviewed by journalists. Now I know. Ha!

    :D As a former journalist, I’m sure you’re aware that even if she quoted you verbatim, her editor would have rewritten it so that you sound like you speak so strangely.

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    Actually, I was misquoted just then.

    What I actually said was “The “American” Press misquoting and bending the truth???. I’m shocked!! HA”

  6. Avatar

    o_O I don’t think she really twisted your words.. sounds similar to me…

    I feel this particular journalist did not twist the story or your words as bad as some of the bloggers out there that blatantly put false information into the web.

    Although comparing the two doesn’t sound very right as journalists should be held to a higher standard >,>

  7. Avatar

    I don`t think the issue here is a matter of twisting Sheylara`s words or misrepresenting her thoughts. I would think any journalist who wants to be taken seriously – ex or otherwise – would have either scribbled a choice (short, direct) quote instead of trying to catch every word said or paraphrase the response based on keywords they managed to jot down.

    I don`t see anything wrong with her pointing out the made-up quote because it was phrased in constructively. :)

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    Well… the trouble about quoting someone is that you are very unlikely to get the completely accurate quote (unless you have a recorder) so it’s best to get the gist of what they say and write it as best you can. What I would tend to do would be to confirm quotes with the source before publishing, but that’s not always possible. As long you your ideas come through it should be ok.

  9. Avatar


    Allow me to give my 2 sen worth, me being a publisher and have gone through being on both sides – as an interviewer and interviewee.

    I agree you most likely don’t talk like that. Most likely many others as well who are reported in the press daily.

    These reporters concise your sentences at times because they are trying to find ‘the sentence/ the quote’ for the day.

    She couldnt take your first sentence only because it happens to all nearly everyone at all events (ok most events). So, if she writes that, then it becomes ‘boring’ to the readers – the money paying people who want unique things, not their ordinary lives.

    Then, your next sentence, is a good statement. But she had to link to something. So, since she only asked you that much, she linked it to your first sentence.

    On your statements being different from what you said, I guess, as long it has a similar meaning, then it should be ok. Be proud to be quoted as how many of the rest were even interviewed… or some interviewed but not featured.


  10. Avatar

    ignorantsoup: Yeah, I think phone interviews would be the worst. More room for misinterpretation!

    Another Journalist: Thanks for your opinion! I might not agree with everything you say, but I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, so I respect what you said. But also allow me to respond to your feedback.

    1) I agree with quotes needing to be cut short and chosen selectively. As a journalist, I might even add two quotes together to form a sentence, but I really wouldn’t add new stuff in it and change words around. If I really had to, I would make sure my interviewee sounds better, and not worse.

    2) Well, that’s possible! If that’s really the case, I apologise for jumping at the reporter!

    3) I wasn’t really criticising what she wrote on her notebook. I was just telling how it was, so that people can see the picture of how it was possible for her to misquote me.

    4) Being more understanding is one way to look at it. On the other hand, if you’ve been in that path before, sometimes you will have stricter standards. My cousin used to work as a waitress for many years and she’s really believes in the importance of giving good service. So when she goes to a restaurant and gets lousy service from a waiter, she’ll get upset and complain because someone is spoiling the image of her profession.

    Monster: Thanks for understanding, monster. You totally hit the nail on the head! Yeah, I do think the last bit made me sound like a cheapo. I just didn’t type it out. But you did it for me!

    Mike M: I don’t really get what you mean. I’m not talking about American press! But yes, all press (no matter from what country) misquote and bend the truth. lol.

    precious: Hahaha. That’s it. Next time I ever get another chance to be interviewed by Malaysian press, I’m going to make them let me read the copy before it goes to print! lol.

    Priss: Well, she did use the correct keywords. I just don’t like the way she constructed the sentences because I have very high standards of my English and the way she wrote it really made me sound quite bimbotic!

    Yes, I admit I am bimbotic at times and I even claim to be a bimbo but at least in my own blog, I have control of the bimbotic factor! lol. Sorry if that doesn’t make sense.

    Yuuka: Thanks for the support! And thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! ;)

    Jesta: Yeah, I agree. That’s why I’m not being superbly hard on this journalist. I could have written a sharper, more stinging blog! But really, even when I have to make up quotes, I always try to make my interviewee sound intelligent and good and nice. I don’t think I sound any of that in that little sentence the reporter made up for me! Haha.

    modchip: Yes, that’s true.

    Dominique: Haha. Babelfish is much worse. But it’s funny!

    PG: You’re not even a blogger lah! :P

    QuaChee: Well, I do agree that sometimes quotes have to be joined up and the best quote chosen to fit the angle of the article. But I could have written it in a better way that will make me sound less bimbotic and less greedy. I can even give her fewer words if she needs.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of similar meaning. It’s more how it’s written. What if you get interviewed and the reporter rephrased your words and came up with an awkward phrase with bad grammar or something like that? (Yes, even newspapers publish bad grammar once in a while.) The meaning might be correct, but it will make you sound like you can’t speak English properly!

    JayWalk: Haha. That’s a bit extreme lah. Not all journalists can’t be trusted. :P

  11. Avatar

    From my time as a part-time journalist, I can tell you that a lot of Malaysians and Singaporeans (particularly those educated in another language of instruction besides English) will give you incoherent quotes in Manglish/Singlish or indeed another language altogether!

    Quite often a reporter is used to scribbling down the keywords and making the interview subject sound better than they originally did. And yes, by the time it goes through a copy clearer and editor, the quote might be unrecognisable!

  12. Avatar

    Rev Anand: Yeah. Of course, making the interviewee sounds better than original is always good! Haha. The only problem when they make interviewees sound worse!

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