Behind The Scenes - Pararphrasing

Behind The Scenes - Pararphrasing

NEW feature post on behind the scenes. This month a lesson in paraphrasing.

I wasn't sure if I was going to talk about this. But as writing my newsletter this morning I realised it was something we should be aware of in today's society. Especially in light of a really heartbreaking suicide at the weekend, that completely broke my heart as it didn't need to get that far.


They say the words we use have an effect. One thing we don't talk about a lot and in terms of the press, is paraphrasing. Recently I was interviewed for a really innocent article, just about where my studio is and how I ended up here. What was printed though wasn't at all what I said?! Now to me that's obviously something sentimental and personal and has a lot more history than what one sentence in a newspaper article can cover. I've had more than one studio and every single one was completely different, not to mention it becomes like your second home. But I totally understand that's not relevant to the reader, only the subject of the article is. So I get how the journalist changed what we or I said for the theme of the article. There wasn't any need to go into great detail. We had what I thought was a lovely simple chat on the phone.. but at the same time, he apparently took what he wanted to hear for the article.


But it was still bizarre and food for thought in the greater context of bigger problems and lives of celebrities and just articles and words we read in life in general. Sometime much much bigger repercussions. 


Basically every sentence that was printed about what I said wasn't what I said at all. It was complete baffling news to me. As I said, it was only trivial at the time, so I just laughed it off and didn't ask why or complain. Simply the paper printed that "it was always a dream of mine to have a studio here" but..... what I actually said was that "I thought it would be a cool place to be based, but never thought it would be possible and I just chanced it & got in touch" Now to me that's not a big deal, I let it slide, fine let them say that. It's not slander or anything negative..


But it's also not the first time this has happened. A few years ago a textile magazine I used to advertise with regularly and did fairs with, Selvedge, were doing a millinery issue. I found out about it and suggested that they feature my old theatrical millinery tutor, because she is incredible and would just be a cool feature and I thought she should rightly be featured. Long story short they asked me to write an article about her. But they never gave any direction at all other than that. Basically they re wrote the whole article apart from one paragraph. Literally changed every single other paragraph and sentence in the whole article.... Then put my name on it?! They didn't ask me to change anything, they didn't even reply to emails. Now the article wasn't for me, i wasn't precious about it, I genuinely wanted to talk about how awesome my tutor and fellow milliner was. In general I was just completely baffled by the whole thing. I totally respected needing to curate and edit, but then why put my name on it?? And why not just send one email saying 'er can it not be in first person' or 'er can you change it a little' But I didn't get anything. I just got radio silence. If you know me, you know I will work really hard fixing details and making sure something is done well, so it might have been the workaholic in me that was peeved I didn't get a chance to make it better.


Now in terms of paraphrasing and applying this to the greater world of the press and national newspapers it speaks of a much bigger problem of spreading mis information. If a little milliner can have a couple of sentences changed and a whole article printed, with my name attached to it. What info out there can we trust?? We all know to take everything we read in the papers with a pinch of salt. We know a lot is bollocks and clickbait. BUT Just how much are we seeing printed that has been paraphrased AND credited to that individual. Not just bullshit articles, but how much has been tweaked and paraphrased??


In terms of bullying and harassing someone in the press, this is a pretty dangerous territory. There are no guidelines and boundaries. I think it's something we all need to second guess. Sometimes only the original source is the one to trust. But be careful even when you think that it's the source! Cos it might not be..

From my perspective before I was super excited about a hat or two being in the paper and customers maybe hearing about my little biz. But instead I was baffled as to why ask me questions if you were just going to print somat else? Why ask me to write something if you don't want me to write it? So I haven't shouted about the article much and I def haven't advertised in Selvedge since or done their trade fair again and I haven't bought it either. I have learnt that words are more misleading than I realise and I'm not sure if I can trust them as a source now.


As for the news about Caroline Flack at the weekend, I obviously didn't know her as a human being in real life, she wasn't a celeb I looked up to if there are any, but I did watch her on love island and strictly and the only things I know about her court case I've read in the news. I have though personally felt so low and depressed and isolated. As a kid, a teenager and an adult. So I feel gutted for her and heartbroken that a human being was pushed that far. Another one. Because bullying happens all the time still. What if every single one of those articles published about her case was paraphrased or sensationalised for clickbait and let's be honest, there prob was quite a few.

I'm not sure where I want to go with this article. I know it's not about the latest hat collection or commission. But paraphrasing. Please just be aware. It is everywhere. It's something that has taken me by surprise and it most likely is a massive part of the press these days.


As for everything I write on this site and in my blog posts, I think I'm going to be very careful not to edit too much from now on. Just short sweet and honest. Or long baffling and honest.. Might just be a better way. *This blog post is soooo not short and sweet yeah yeah I know.

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1 comment

Hey, I enjoyed reading that, it was good, but it’s a shame there are some quasi-journalists/writers who don’t seem to understand what their remit is. By the way, your writing was good, you could do more!

Joan Levet

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