Quotations And Attributions


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This lecture focuses on the criteria used by journalists in determining when to use quotations and attributions.

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Quotations And Attributions

  1. 1. Quotations and Attributions
  2. 2. Types of Quotations • Complete direct quotations • Partial quotations • Indirect/paraphrased quotations
  3. 3. Using Direct Quotes • Use quote if it is particularly articulate or powerful in the wording • Most people do not speak in a way that translates well into a quote
  4. 4. Using Direct Quotes • Only use a quote if it conveys something that can’t be communicated better in your own words • If it isn’t articulate, then a better strategy is paraphrasing what the subject has told you
  5. 5. Direct Quotes • If the subject is well known, then a direct quote may be appropriate – The more significant the interviewee is, the more likely a reader will be interested • Make sure that the quote is used to add a unique angle or credibility to the story
  6. 6. Direct Quotes • If the quote is quirky or captures the source’s personality • If it is emotional or highly opinionated
  7. 7. Quote Problems • Avoid rambling quotes • Avoid quotes with too much technical lingo
  8. 8. Quoting Accurately • If the grammar is poor, then some reporters will “clean up” the quote • This practice varies by publication • HOWEVER, if the interview was witnessed by multiple media outlets (example: press conference) then you should leave the quotes alone
  9. 9. (sic) • If you want to be cautious, then you can use the “(sic)” notation in your printed quote to notate a grammatical error made by your subject
  10. 10. Editing Quotes • Never make up a quote • Don’t add words to a quote • Exception: You may “clean up” the grammar if it is minimal and does not change the context – [Be sure to put the changed words in brackets]
  11. 11. Holy S---! • Most publications shy away from obscenities, unless: – It is part of a quote – It is relevant for the story or point • In many cases, the obscenity is altered with dashes – S---! – F---!
  12. 12. Attribution • In most cases, the simple verb “said” is appropriate since it is neutral – Example: “This is a quote,” the teacher said. • There are other verbs you can use, but be conservative
  13. 13. Verbs to Avoid • Minimize use of attribution verbs that are not neutral • “ ,” he cried. • “ ,” she emphasized. • “ ,” she contended.
  14. 14. Identification in Attribution • Attribute with the name and job title. – AFTER Example: “This year’s textbooks are going to be more expensive,” said The Bookie sales manager Mary Smith. – BEFORE Example: Mary Smith, a sales manager at The Bookie, said “This year’s textbooks are going to be more expensive.”
  15. 15. Middle Initials • AP Stylebook recommends that you use them. – Particularly in hard news stories where they help identify a specific individual, such as casualty lists and stories naming the accused in a crime. This helps to minimize confusion. • A middle initial may be dropped if a person does not use one or is publicly known without it: Mickey Mantle (not Mickey C.), the Rev. Billy Graham (not Billy F.).
  16. 16. Talking to Sources • Many of the best stories will not originate from a news release • By nurturing your sources, you will be more likely to get closer to the truth • The longer you work with a source, the more likely you are to determine the relevance of the information that comes from that source
  17. 17. Sources • Some sources will want to remain anonymous • If you agree to keep their identity private, it is unethical to reveal their names to anyone
  18. 18. Exceptions: • Government subpoena – If it is determined to jeopardize the national security or is essential is solving a crime • Publication policy – Due to some problems with reporter integrity, some publications are now requiring reporters to share the identity of the anonymous reporter with their supervising editor
  19. 19. Example • Josh Wolf was in jail for 226 days for refusing to turn over raw news video footage to authorities • This was the longest time a journalist has been imprisoned in the U.S. for protecting source materials
  20. 20. Use Caution • Be aware of sources that have an axe to grind • Do they have an agenda? • Are they telling the truth? • Are they reliable? – Substance abuse = suspicion • Do they really have a direct connection to the news event? – Be careful of “hearsay”
  21. 21. Gossip Alert • A newspaper is not supposed to be a tabloid • Verify information provided by your sources • Is the information relevant to the news value of the story? – Juicy “gossip” may not equate to news
  22. 22. Anonymous Sources • On the record – Everything can be quoted with attribution • Background – Everything can be quoted but no attribution • Deep background – No quotes can be used, no attribution – but information can be used • Off the record – No quotes, no attribution
  23. 23. Policies • Some publications do not allow anonymous sources • Some require you to disclose the info to your superior
  24. 24. “Off the Record” • Hotly debated topic • Is it ethical to gather info “off the record”? • Should everything be fair game? • Can you use information gained “off the record” without directly quoting the information or source?