In an era of shrinking newsrooms in traditional media and the concurrent rise of citizen-generated content online, attribution is poorly understood and frequently absent or inadequate.
The Journalist Is Rarely The Expert Or Best Source
Journalists are rarely experts in the topics they write about or even the best source unless they are reporting events they have witnessed first hand. Even first hand or accounts by experts demand photos, video or confirming attribution from disinterested third parties to have inherent credibility.
A lack of attribution makes an article easy to dispute, can be legally hazardous, and offers Internet trolls an easy target.
The short excerpt below from the New York Times provides a solid exemplar of how to do this correctly.
|Right-click image to enlarge.|
|Right click image to enlarge.|
In a disagreement such as this, citing specific sources allows the reader to make fact-based decisions on the article's credibility. Because this is a political article, many readers will make up their minds in a partisan manner.
However, without the immediate attribution in the article and the context of multiple sources, this would be much easier to dismiss as a biased polemic and irresistible troll fodder.