The Union needs to be more generous when attributing quotes from other publications

I noticed George Boardman cited The Wall Street Journal in one paragraph of his weekly column this week: “The Wall Street Journal reports that pot growers in the Emerald Triangle — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties — are trying to establish a local variety known as Coffee Krush (said to have a “fresh, earthy taste”) as the “Bordeaux of cannabis.”

That’s good, but it wasn’t enough. Further on, his column also borrowed two direct quotes from the Journal’s own reporting, but he didn’t attribute either of them to the source from which it was taken:

He used this quote from the Journal interview without attribution: “The best stuff I could grow is if I were in the Central Valley,” said Rosenthal.

As well as this one: “We’re like an American treasure; we’ve lived through some s—,” said Justin Calvino, a grower in the area for almost 10 years. “The hipsters are going to love that — it’s like meeting Machine Gun Kelly.”

Here’s what Time Inc. states in its editorial guidelines: “For quotes, if a statement was made in public, as at a State Department press conference, and reported by responsible news organizations without disagreement, then it is fair to run the quote. However, if the statement was made in an interview conducted by someone working for another news organization, the quote should be attributed to the source from which it was taken, or checked with the individual who said it. It may not be advisable to ask the person, “Did you make this statement?” An alternative approach would be to ask the source if the article from which the quote was taken was accurate. If the response is an unqualified yes, the quote is acceptable; if no, find out which statements are incorrect.

“In general, follow the golden rule of attribution: attribute generously, as you would have others attribute unto you.”

An editor should ask George if he checked with the individual who said it. The best practice, as Time points out, is to “attribute generously, as you would have others attribute unto you.”

What are The Union’s editorial guidelines?

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

3 thoughts on “The Union needs to be more generous when attributing quotes from other publications”

  1. Out of fairness to Bored Georgeman I believe he couldn’t write a column unless he used someone else’s quotes.

  2. Ha! That’s what prompted me to check in the first place. And sure enough, I was right. When you sit behind your PC in a walled community, the tendency is to let somebody else do the real work. Whether you agree with Hilary Hodge or not, she is out and about, “meeting and greeting.” And it shows.

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