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'Says' versus 'said'

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spud, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. spud

    spud Member

    I think I've used 'says' all of maybe two or three times ever, but I like what it brings as an occasional change of pace, maybe just because its different. Is there a typical protocol for when and where to use says when attributing a quote? I don't see it that often but enough to like it when I do.
     
  2. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Always "said" in a quote attribution or paraphrase. "Says" is common in PR writing, but not in news writing.
     
  3. spud

    spud Member

    I've never seen it used in a news piece but I've seen it more than a handful of times in feature stories and it always seemed to work. I'm trying to dig up an example now.
     
  4. Oggiedoggie

    Oggiedoggie Well-Known Member

    There are situations in which "says" is appropriate, such as "Al Gore says in his documentary film."

    The idea being that, for as long as the film exists, he'll be saying it.

    Beyond that sort of thing, if someone says something live, they said it.
     
  5. Rockbottom

    Rockbottom Active Member

    I use it very sparingly, usually when going back and forth, time-reference wise, with quotes from the same person - said then and says now.

    RB
     
  6. JackS

    JackS Member

    I know others disagree, but I prefer "says" in profile or feature stories, particularly when the quote expresses an ongoing opinion.

    "SportsJournalists.com is a complete waste of my finger movement and brain space," JackS says.

    In straight news, "said" is pretty much mandatory, because quotes are usually part of a snapshot in time.

    "I walked past Penn Station, and I didn't see any fight," JackS said.
     
  7. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Says sucks.
     
  8. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    I know of a newspaper that uses 'says' almost exclusively to make them feel contemporary. Oy.
     
  9. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Those who hate says should never work the desk, then.

    Because headline and cutline writers are told ad nauseum to make their verbs active.

    So your headline will say, "Obama says health plan will succeed"

    And your cutline will say, "Obama tells members of Congress why they should vote for his health plan."

    But your story will say, "President Obama said his health plan will succeed despite crticism from conservative members of Congress."
     
  10. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    "Says" is perfectly appropriate in limited instances for feature writing -- namely, when you're trying to put the reader "in the moment" or show real-time action, but that technique should be used sparingly. It's also the common attribution tense for magazine writing.

    "Said" is usually appropriate is almost every instance, however ... especially in newspaper writing (or news writing in any medium).

    But, for heaven's sake, don't mix tenses within the same story unless you absolutely know what you're doing.
     
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    You are right of course, but I think the thread was talking about copy and not headlines or cutlines.
     
  12. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Simply, reformedhack saved me the time.
     
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