Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


Been testing out how to most interestingly Podcast a written article.

Problem: How do you best express quotes in spoken form?

Newspaper stories often use quotes in these two forms:

But the arrival of dot-eu is also dividing the Union. Some of those who run the domain names for individual EU countries are preparing a campaign to promote their own national addresses, arguing that .fr for France or .it for Italy conveys important cultural information.
"In this case, there is an inherent competition between individual countries and the EU," said Alberto Pérez, deputy director for international relations at, the government agency that manages the registration of the nation's .es suffix. "Our duty is to promote our country's domain name, not the EU."
The company overseeing the .eu domain name, a Brussels-based nonprofit called EURid, dismissed the idea that there could be any rivalry with national domain names. "We have no intention of being competitive," said Kurt Vincent, spokesman for EURid.

Both forms make it difficult to know it is a quote without saying "quote". That is clearly unacceptable.

Only alternatives I see are:

1- say before the quote begins: "Alberto Perez of said..."

2- just adopt a slightly different tone and hope people understand. this could be confusing when a paragraph of a story begins with a quote that is broken in the middle.

3- get rid of exact quotes and do them as attributed speech in a normal sentence

Which one is best?


Hmm, podcasting a written article: that must be a problem coming from a print journalist :-)
When you want to use material for podcasting, it might make more sense to use some of the original material. I have done it now a few times, where I posted a Skype-conversation, the real interview. I do tend to use then some methods that would work different for radio, like trying to prevent listeners from falling asleep. That might be conflicting with the task of getting all the information you need. That sometimes is boring indeed.
But podcasting an already written article? I would not do it.

It depends on the story. If you can get away with saying with no introduction: "Vell, I sink ve 'ave sumzing 'ere" in a low, gravelly voice mimicking Dr. Ishbitz of the Berlin Cancer Research Society ... great! If that comes out sounding like you were inexplicably possessed temporarily by a German demon, you could try introducing the sentence with: "As the reknowned Dr. Ishbitz said, and I quote, "Vell, I sink ve 'ave sumzing 'ere." But then Dr. Ishbitz might not appreciate your take on his accent. The alternative to changing your own voice (which is certainly the most amusing option) would be to actually record Dr. Ishbitz and replay him saying "Vell, I sink ve 'ave sumzing 'ere."

Unfortunately, you'll probably be stuck saying either: "As Dr. Ishbitz said recently concerning his research: "I think we have something here," or "Dr. Ishbitz thinks that he and his research team may have made a breakthrough."

Personally, I think splicing in the person speaking the quote would be the most interesting.

I would personally have no issue listening to a podcast with the words "quote ..." "... end quote" in it. That's done on radio. I think you can mix this up with attributions and other devices, because sometimes the quote is really what is needed to punchline the story or the par as you well know. I'm not a media lawyer but I think whatever you do, when quoting it must be abundantly clear to the listener that you are quoting to keep you out of trouble.

Maybe you could use a Tinkerbell-style page-turning audio tag to begin and end each quote ;)

I heartily agree with Fons (Comment 1) that the podcast version must be reworked, but I am sure you already were thinking that ...

its just a quote and end quote that will do for any speech. I think thats pretty basic protocol.

For my podcast (, I've adopted model number 2. I say something like, "in the article, Esther Dyson wrote..." and then I change my inflection slightly at the start and end of the quote. I think it's pretty clear what's mine and what is the quotation. I also put a link to the primary source from which I am quoting in my show notes so people can see the exact text if they'd like.


The translation of text to spoken word was a big problem at ON24, where we converted dozens of stories written by partners each day. The problem is in the variety of styles people use to express quotation and attribution in writing, so there is no standard way of doing it without rewriting "for air" to some extent. For example, you cannot break quotes comfortably when injecting "quote...unquote" in a sentence, because you end up with two or more renditions of the punctuation in a single sentence.

Saying "quote...unquote" or some variation works well in some circumstances, but it interrupts the listener's flow of thought and, I think, is best used to highlight important points, but not all quotes. Varying the way you introduce a quote, using "[subject] said...." or "[subject] told me" makes it more comfortable to the ear, more like hearing a story told than hearing an article read.

The suggestion of putting the original up is certainly practical and convenient. It's what I do with my podcast, but I always divert from my script as I speak so the text and the audio differ.

So, you have to mix up your suggestions and add a conversational-storytelling tone to the exposition of the text, as well.

I think radio conventions for quotes without audio clips apply... "White house officials said..." or "In his article in the International Herald-Tribune, Thomas Crampton wrote..."

I think the only acceptable version is: "quote ... end quote". It is clear, concise and very hard to misinterpret!

would you speack about the french blog award ?

Audio is a good medium for many things, but quoting passages is probably not one of them. I would try to keep the tone conversational myself.

Pinch you nose and use a funny voice.

that's the best suggestion so far.

I'm pretty new to this as well so I can't claim huge experience.

I've done a sort of 'news round up' style of podcast - it's from last weekend when I was pressed for time before going to Les Blogs 2.0 - it sounds a but similar to what you're thinking of.

I referenced the text and then added in comments. If you're looking at it as an alternative to written media or as an add on to written within the constraints you're thinking of then I (as a print/online and now podcast) writer don't see it working too well. These media are different though they can be complementary. I believe the trick is to take an angle on the story so you're not constrained. A bit like that political news comment programme late night that has Portillo and Abbott?

I'll certainly be doing it again but for the future I have some ideas around getting the text authors to comment in the podcast.

For Les blogs - I got hold of individuals who I thought could add value for my audience. I got each to answer a single, specific question and then mashed all the Q&As with the questions being posed in the studio environment so as to make it clear what was happening - it came off well - so people tell me - and it wasn't a huge production ask as I pretty much knew how I wanted it structured.

It isn't perfect but it's pretty easy to hear that these were 'live' and therefore unscripted interviews. That was important to me even though I know the fact these folk were at Les Blogs was a non-issue for my audience. As a result, I believe it gives a different take on what people are thinking.

You're welcome to take a look/listen - do a category listing for 'podcasting' and the shows should come up. They're hosted at LibSyn which I will be upgrading for more uploads per month.

This is an evolving medium and if you get it wrong for the target audience they'll soon tell you. But then I also think that if you exercise a little judgment, then you'll know yourself whether it is right.

The thing is not to get too prescriptive about it. The professionals will wade in at some time in the future but by then the podcasters will rule the earth (not really but I live in some sort of hope.)

Don't know if that's helpful but as we say: "Take what you want and leave the rest."

Jo-Y-ITO, contact by personal if you need some feedback...flick email/fax and JOIN the team! Cheers

S/S :)