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Analysis: Attribution

The Kansas death penalty story I blogged about on Friday contains several sources, including death penalty experts, a court opinion written by justices, a murdered child's mother, Republican Gov. Dane Heineman, and the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Some of the sources, were named, such as Gov. Dane Heineman and Executive Director Richard Dieter. The rest of the sources were more vague. "Death penalty officials" could be anyone. Are these university professors that research capital punishment? Are they members of an advocacy group like the Death Penalty Information Center? The reader doesn't know for certain. Similarly, the author chooses not to reveal the judges and justices by name, but the attribution is still credible because court opinions are public record and can be accessed by anyone.

The sources are clustered together. The reader would be confused if the author chose to quote a source at the beginning of the article and then again several paragraphs down. Clustering puts similar information together and helps organize the story.

The author chooses to use several direct quotes from reputable sources, which adds credibility to the information. His attributions are clear and effective.

Most of the information in this story is not attributed to a source specifically, but is either historical information or public record that doesn't need to be attributed in order to give it veracity.