Attribution

Now the most important thing about writing news stories is giving credit to the place or person you got the information from. A quote without a name might as well just be your opinion, and I hate to say it but unless you are an expert on what you are writing about no one is going to listen. Besides letting other people have the spotlight in your story allows for an outside look on the topic and a fresh perspective.

perspective

 Where credit is due

When you are giving credit of information to someone be sure it is credible information. Sometimes it is hard to catch whether it is the truth or not, but that is the point of giving that person or organization the credit for what they said. If it turns up false it is on them and not on you. Now don’t just go around giving people credit for anything that appears sketchy so you can avoid the blame. That’s when you run into libel and a possible lovely lawsuit coming your way.

 It’s still your story

As a writer you do have to take responsibility for what you write. There is no getting around that, and attribution is just a way to show you know where to look for information. And it is not just on you. Editors also have to check your sources and make sure they are credible and up-to-date. A story you use information from that is more than a few years old is most likely not going to hold up as relevant information anymore depending on what you are talking about.

pocketwatch

When it comes to written material search for when it was published to see if it is worth using. In most cases about two years old is still considered relevant. But if you are writing about technology only a few months ago to a year would be about as far back as you can go. It just depends on the story.

 It’s for your own good

What you have to keep in mind is what is the story about and what information is going to bring in more insight for the reader. Attribution is there to allow more credibility to what you write. Since you don’t have anything to convince readers that you know what you are talking about you have to share someone else’s words that they will believe. That’s the only way to get your words across as true — even when writing a column in some cases.

 You are a source to
whome

One interesting thing about attribution though is that you can attribute yourself. When you have built up enough trust between readers and the magazine you can use pieces of the magazine that were published earlier. First you have to build that trust and it takes a while to do that, and it is easier to lose it than to gain it. Keep that in mind as you write. That is what you are trying to achieve.

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