Analyzing Attributions in a Story
Not only do attributions give credit to sources in a story, they give readers a sense of validity. Attributions, whether quoted or paraphrased, provide readers evidence and proof to support a story.
We'll look at the Star Tribune's coverage of the Franken and Coleman recount debacle: a highly controversial case where the public relies on information from specific individuals. The story: "Senate recount trial judges put 4800 more ballots in play."
The stories are usually comprised of statements from both campaigns, and it's evident in this particular story as well. An attribution in the third paragraph recites a statement from Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg. The next paragraph then features a partial quote from Franken chief recount lawyer Marc Elias. As a reader, I can feel the tug-of-war battle between the two campaigns through the structure of the story. The attributions can sometimes be confusing.
The story also includes a quote from a Hamline University political scientist. I don't believe this person was noteworthy, but it was nice to get an "outside" perspective, one different from the parties involved in the case.
The story relies heavily on attributions, and until a ruling has been made, I believe that we will continue to see stories structurally similar to this one featured in the Star Tribune.
Star Tribune. http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/senate/38890229.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUnciaec8O7EyUsl