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When to use present tense in reporting speech?

In below news reporter has used Present tense "Sits" to indicate past event. Can it be replaced by sat?

"She sits in the cab along with the other 6-7 people. She sits on front seat as other people were sitting on the back seats."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/uber-driver-molests-woman-in-shared-cab/articleshow/64485688.cms

2 Answers 2

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This isn't grammatical English; you're correct that, in this instance, the past tense should have been used. It abruptly shifts back to past tense just a few sentences later.

The present tense can be used in reporting to imply that the reader is with the reporter as the event happens. This is quite common in profiles of notable people, where the circumstances of the interview might be described in the present tense before moving into the more familiar question and answer style, and also in 'longform' pieces, where short illustrative sections are intercut with lengthy explanations of a difficult or complex situation.

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You don't. This article contains multiple errors of English:

Woman was returning from Delhi. (The woman is needed here)

Police told complainant had gone Delhi (Presumablely The police were told the complainant had gone to Delhi)

The whole prose style is poor. Part of this poor style is a sudden jump to the present tense "She sits in the cab...". It is a mistake to do this.

So it is just an error by a poorly written and proofread article.

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