, Manager of Digital Content at Linden Lab, Associate Professor/Director of the Integrated Communication at Everett (ICE) program at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication (Washington State University)
Types of Quotations
• Complete direct quotations
• Partial quotations
• Indirect/paraphrased quotations
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
Using Direct Quotes
• Only use a quote if it conveys something that
can’t be communicated better in your own
• If it isn’t articulate, then a better strategy is
paraphrasing what the subject has told you
• 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
• If the quote is quirky or captures the source’s
• If it is emotional or highly opinionated
• Avoid rambling quotes
• Avoid quotes with too much technical lingo
• 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
• 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
• 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]
• Most publications shy away from obscenities,
– It is part of a quote
– It is relevant for the story or point
• In many cases, the obscenity is altered with
• 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
Verbs to Avoid
• Minimize use of attribution verbs that are not
• “ ,” he cried.
• “ ,” she emphasized.
• “ ,” she contended.
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.”
• 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.).
Talking to Sources
• Many of the best stories will not originate from a
• 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
• Some sources will want to remain
• If you agree to keep their identity
private, it is unethical to reveal their
names to anyone
• 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
• 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
• 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
– Be careful of “hearsay”
• A newspaper is not supposed to
be a tabloid
• Verify information provided by
• Is the information relevant to
the news value of the story?
– Juicy “gossip” may not equate to
• On the record – Everything can be quoted
• Background – Everything can be quoted but
• Deep background – No quotes can be used,
no attribution – but information can be used
• Off the record – No quotes, no attribution
• Some publications do not allow anonymous
• Some require you to disclose the info to your
“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?