A colon or a comma?

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Mar 13, 2009
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which one is the correct way ?

She innocently answers: “I don’t know; I don’t know.”

She innocently answers, “I don’t know; I don’t know.”
I would never use a colon to introduce direct speech that way, yet I seem to be see it more and more often. I'm not sure when that rule changed, nor how acceptable it is.

You cannot go wrong with a comma there. (I do think a period is better than a semi-colon between the two "I don't know" statements, thought what you have is not incorrect.)
A comma, not a colon, usually precedes a conversation.

There are only two main uses for the colon in everyday writing. Both require an independent clause, also known as a complete sentence, before the colon. The first use is when introducing a list, and the second is when introducing an explanation or example.

Example: I need to pick up a few things at the grocery store: milk, bread, cheese, and juice.

Example: After 10 hours of deliberation, the jury made its decision: the defendant was guilty.

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