Attribution – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Journalism Glossary Terms

What is Attribution in Journalism?

Attribution in journalism refers to the practice of giving credit to the original source of information or quotes used in a news story. It is a fundamental principle of ethical journalism that helps to maintain transparency and accountability in reporting. By attributing information to its source, journalists uphold the integrity of their work and provide readers with the necessary context to evaluate the credibility of the information presented.

Why is Attribution Important in Journalism?

Attribution is important in journalism for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to establish the credibility of a news story by showing readers where the information came from and allowing them to verify its accuracy. Secondly, attribution respects the intellectual property rights of the original source and demonstrates ethical behavior on the part of the journalist. Finally, attribution promotes transparency and accountability in journalism, as it allows readers to trace the origins of information and hold journalists accountable for their reporting.

How is Attribution Used in News Reporting?

In news reporting, attribution is used to credit the original source of information, whether it be a person, organization, or publication. Journalists typically use phrases such as “according to,” “as reported by,” or “said in an interview with” to attribute information to its source. In addition to attributing quotes and facts, journalists also attribute ideas, opinions, and analysis to their original sources to provide readers with a clear understanding of where the information came from.

When Should Attribution be Used in Journalism?

Attribution should be used in journalism whenever information, quotes, or ideas are sourced from an external source. This includes information obtained from interviews, press releases, official statements, reports, and other publications. Attribution is especially important when reporting on controversial or sensitive topics, as it helps to prevent misinformation and ensure the accuracy of the information presented. In general, journalists should err on the side of caution and always attribute information to its original source to maintain the integrity of their reporting.

Who Should be Given Attribution in Journalism?

In journalism, attribution should be given to any individual, organization, or publication that provides information, quotes, or ideas used in a news story. This includes sources who speak on the record, off the record, or on background, as well as sources who provide information anonymously. It is the responsibility of the journalist to accurately attribute information to its original source and provide readers with the necessary context to evaluate the credibility of the information presented.

How Can Attribution Impact the Credibility of a News Story?

Attribution plays a crucial role in shaping the credibility of a news story. By attributing information to its original source, journalists demonstrate transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in their reporting. This, in turn, helps to build trust with readers and establish the credibility of the news organization. On the other hand, failing to attribute information can lead to accusations of plagiarism, bias, or misinformation, which can damage the reputation of the journalist and the news organization. Overall, proper attribution is essential for maintaining the credibility and integrity of journalism.