Surely I Never Said That??

Don’t let a newspaper or magazine interviewer put words in your mouth; it can lead to unintended, negative quotes appearing. You don’t have to leave it to the reporter to frame the debate. Often they will use a pejorative word or phrase in their question, and your natural instinct will probably be to refute it. However, in the process you may be neatly giving the journalist a very defensive-sounding quote—as in: “Many people would say your behaviour’s been very shifty in this case?” “Well I wouldn’t say we’ve been shifty, but …”. Shifty is far from the word you would have chosen, but that’s now the word that appears in the headline. Better not to repeat the offending term, use your own words instead—as in “I believe we did the right thing in the circumstances …”.