July 4th, 2006
Recently I was called by a women’s magazine. They were checking a quote from me for a forthcoming feature.
They’re one of the few magazines that actually ever check your quotes, so I’m always pleased to talk to them.
I wasn’t quite so pleased when I heard my ‘quote’ read back.
The feature I was part of tackled reasons for having sex, and the part I was quoted in entitled ‘jump start your sex life’. I’d spent a long while talking to the freelancer working on the piece, trying to explain how just having sex wasn’t necessarily going to jump start anything. I expressed concern that the feature was taking a fairly narrow view of both sex and ‘fixing’ relationships, but the freelancer assured me that wouldn’t be how it appeared in press.
During the quote checking the journalist read back to me I’d said to fix your sex life ‘holistically’. So far, so good. Next they had me saying you should have ‘plenty of wining and dining’ that would ‘rekindle romance’ and that in turn would ‘guarantee your sex life will get back on track’.
I wondered if I’d gone temporarily crazy. The quote wasn’t just inaccurate it was using phrases I would never say, like ‘wining and dining’. And I’d never guarantee that your sex life could be put back on track just from a romantic evening out.
I explained this to the journalist calling to check my quote. Their response was even if it didn’t sound like me, it was what the magazine liked and they wanted to use it. I asked what the point was in being interviewed if quotes were going to be rephrased to suit the magazine’s focus – not fit with evidence?
Irritated now, they asked me to explain what I had said to the freelancer writing the feature.
I related that we’d covered how you can’t fix a sex problem by just fixing sex, and that making yourself have sex when don’t want it can increase problems. I suggested how women could look at their life – health, stress, work, relationships, childcare, or household chores to see if those could be getting in the way of their ability to have or enjoy sex. We’d discussed masturbation, lubricant, learning more about what turns you on and how to share those ideas and desires with a partner. I also stressed how it’s difficult to fix any sex problems without communication with a partner, and how you could go about this – as well as letting women have the option of not bothering with sex if they didn’t want to.
‘Well yeah, but isn’t that what we’ve got you quoted as saying?’ The journalist asked?
I replied that no it wasn’t what I was saying, I was trying to look at lifestyle and I wasn’t about to start telling readers I could ‘guarantee’ their sex lives would improve.
‘Okay’ the journalist responded ‘we don’t actually go to press til later today so there’s still time for you to get on and sort this out. If you can rewrite the quotes out and email it to me then we’ll be able to include you’.
Er, time for me to sort this out? I’d already given time to the freelancer to discuss this feature as well as talking to the magazine to check the quote.
I told the journalist that whilst I really appreciated them taking the time to check the quote with me, and whilst I was sorry we’d had to waste time discussing it, that I didn’t have time to sort out putting the quote right and that it wasn’t my job.
I requested they pull the quote.
‘What, you mean take it out?’ they gasped.
‘Yes’ I replied ‘I appreciate it’s short notice and I’m sorry if I’m putting you out, but that’s not what I said and I don’t have time to fix it. The point of talking to the freelancer was to provide this information, and I don’t see how doing this job twice is going to make a difference’.
‘What, all of it? Remove it completely?’
‘But that means you actually don’t want us to quote you?’ the journalist said again.
I said that yes, I didn’t want that quote in the feature. They stated nobody ever asked for quotes to be taken out, and did I really know what I was doing? Surely this wasn’t good for my career?
I explained it would be more of a problem if the quote stayed in.
Which is where we left our conversation. I’ve no idea if they will respect my wishes and pull the quote. I’ll have to wait for the magazine to come out to check.
What the experience has taught me is all too often people seem so delighted to be quoted and plugged within magazines that they don’t worry what you have them say, so long as you name them. And magazines don’t really care what you say either because if they don’t like your quote, they’ll just make one up for you.Tweet