Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mangled attribution

One of the biggest problems with quotations is attribution. Where do you put the "he said"?

I found this today in a New York Times story: “My nose tells me he’s a dealmaker kind of guy as long as both sides are playing straight,” the New England Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, said. I would change the last part of the sentence to say: ," said Robert K. Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.

In my last newspaper job, the reporters thought the editor preferred the mangled form, so they'd write, "We really like our jobs," Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station, said Thursday. No, the editor preferred, "We really like our jobs," said Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station.

It'd be nice to get Thursday in there, but it's implied that it would be a Thursday interview for a Friday newspaper.

Speaking of attribution, I was listening to a Robert B. Parker novel on CD, and we had nothing but he said, she said.

"You did a good job today, Molly," Jesse said.

"Thanks, Jesse. You did, too," she said.

"Keep up the good work," Jesse said.

Somehow, it should be possible to attribute the quotes without all of those saids.

But if writing were easy, we all could do it.

He said.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks I learn so much from your posts. As a newbie writer for a small newspaper, I appreciate your thoughts.