Attribution Of Quotes Piece

Musical comedy star Dorothy Brunton reading Sid Nicholl's Fashion-plate Fanny in the children's section of The Sun newspaper with a small boy at St. Margaret's Hospital, Sydney, January 1925 / Sam Hood

Musical comedy star Dorothy Brunton reading Sid Nicholl’s Fashion-plate Fanny in the children’s section of The Sun newspaper with a small boy at St. Margaret’s Hospital, Sydney, January 1925 / Sam Hood by State Library of New South Wales collection, on Flickr

Via the great Alice Tallmadge!

Attribution:

When to use it, when not to use it

● Use attribution when dealing with facts, statements or opinions that you, the reporter, got from an outside source, whether you directly quote the source or not.

  •  Two Ashland residents died in a fiery motor vehicle collision between two pick-up trucks on Interstate 5 south of Albany early Sunday evening, Oregon State Police said.
  • “The accident occurred when the second driver, who was speeding, failed to negotiate a series of curves,” said police officer Marlina Sletskova.
  • Print journalism is old-fashioned and boring, students interviewed in a recent survey on media issues said.

● Form: Place attribution at the end of the information, usually. Use commas to set off the attribution.

  •  “We don’t know how long the body was in the street,” said Ashland Police Chief Belinda Moore.
  • The body was in the street for four hours, police said.
  • But sometimes: Ashland Police Chief Belinda Moore said she didn’t know how long the body lay in the street before being discovered.

● Don’t use quotes that include a lot of jargon; paraphrase instead. Also, avoid using parts of quotes that are difficult to understand. Instead, paraphrase the info and use a shorter segment that is clear.

● Use “according to” when referring to a report or other written information. Use said (for news) and says (for features) if the information came from a person. Avoid claim, reported, asserts, groaned, cried, etc.

● Attribute a quote only once in a graf. Insert attribution in breaks between sentences.

  • “I think most journalists are fools,” Cranky said. “They think they know everything, but they don’t.”
  • “We drove too fast,” Speedy said. “I wasn’t surprised by the ticket.”

● Don’t present two quotes in a row from different sources. ID the second source before giving the quote:

NO: “I don’t like how this place cooks eggs one bit,” Dorfman said.

“I’m still waiting to hear something that you do like,” Holland
said.

YES: “I don’t like how this place cooks eggs one bit,” Dorfman said.

But Holland, who owns the restaurant, ignored the dig. “I’m still waiting to hear something that you do like,” Holland said.

(Much more about this in the Harrower book.)

About Suzi Steffen

Suzi Steffen teaches, writes, edits, reviews and rides (an adult tricycle named Momo) in Eugene, Oregon. She works at the University of Oregon as an adjunct instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication and as an arts journalist across the state and country. She's got dreams of fame related to a statewide arts website, some books and a lot of social media. Email her at ssteffen at uoregon dot edu or suzisteffen at gmail dot com; find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for more info.
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