Reporters avoid using such verbs as "hope," "feel," "believe," "want" and "think" to attribute statements. Reporters know only what their sources tell them, not what sources hope, feel, believe, want or think.

Other words are even less appropriate. People speak words; they do not "grin," "smile," "chuckle," "laugh," "sigh" or "cough" them. Reporters should rephrase such sentences as this:

"It's a wonderful movie," she smiled.

REVISED: "It's a wonderful movie," she said with a smile.

OR: Smiling, she said, "It's a wonderful movie."

The words "claimed" and "admitted" are especially troublesome. "Claimed" casts doubt on a source's remarks. It suggests that the remarks are controversial and possibly wrong. Similarly, "admitted" implies a source conceded some point or confessed to an error or crime. By comparison, the word "said" is almost always appropriate. Frequent use of "said" may sound awkward at first, but it is a neutral term and can be used any number of times in a story.

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