You know the feeling. You’re writing an article and you’re waiting for some comments that the source promised to send you via email. You open your email and … you feel like throwing your laptop through the window. What happened?
One of the most often mistakes that sources make when answering a journalist’s question in written is to send in quotes without diacritics.
This isn’t the case for languages like English. However, in Czech or in Romanian, sending emails without diacritics means that the journalist will have to basically rewrite your entire text. There are very few things that are more frustrating to a reporter than re-writing your whole content against a killer deadline.
New technology isn’t always smart. Tablet and smart phone users may have a tendency to fire back answers to email inquiries on the spot, forgetting to adjust their language for written purposes.
An email without diacritics is probably better than no email at all. Yet, don’t test a reporter’s patience. If you repeat this mistake too often, you are running a very serious chance the reporter will start avoiding you in the future.
What to do?
- Call back. You can take 5 quiet minutes and call the reporter back. Thus, he will take notes and transcribe your answer directly with diacritics.
- Write in a word editor. If your smart tool doesn’t allow you to apply diacritics in your email, open the file in a separate word editing processor and do the writing there. Send your quotes to the reporter only when they are decent enough to be copy-pasted into an article.
- Apologize. If none of these options work, send your answer without diacritics AND an apology for having the reporter waste her time on transcribing your input. At least you show some consideration for the reporter’s time and you avoid being ignored next time the journalist could use your expertise.
In today’s 24/7 news world and instant deadlines it’s easy to get on the nerves of a tired, frustrated journalist. When you finally decide to talk to the media, try to make sure you do it smartly and effectively for all sides involved.