Citations, accuracy, and credibility


Expert witness William Gulya talks about citations and credibility in journalism on the website at

Gulya defines citations as an “abbreviated alphanumeric expression embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the relevance of the works of others to the topic of discussion at the spot where the citation appears.”

And citations, of course, are at the heart of sourcing for journalists. We call it attribution. Gulya explains the important of accuracy in the stories we write, since our words should always be completely truthful, supported by sources and by the right evidence.

“Whether you have been an expert witness¬†for years or are just starting out, accurate research, proper formatting of citations and clarity will make your written report accurate, impressive and, most of all, credible,” Gulya wrote, also explaining that making improper citations is a “critical error” which can lead to future complications.

Writing unreliable stories will provoke a loss of credibility from the audience. This is something we as journalists want to avoid, because losing credibility means what we write is not going to be taken seriously; not now, or in a close future.

Gulya also talks about stating facts and opinions, explaining that facts are objective, they are statements which can be proven. He also defines them as “something that can be verified and backed up with evidence.”

On the other hand he says opinions are subjective statements which express a certain preference or bias, and that they are basically based on a certain belief or point of view. He says opinions, on the contrary of facts,¬† are “not based on evidence that can be verified.” His advice is to always revise, check and cite your reference and source correctly when stating a fact or opinion.

I believe all of this information has to be taken seriously into account and we should definitely take notes from it, because what makes a journalist a good one is being able to present the information as clear as possible to his or her readers, using honesty as the first principle.

Timing, impact, prominence, proximity, human interest and novelty, all are part of the main factors that make a story newsworthy. But the element that will complete the story will always be good evidence and reliable sources to support the words written, in other words, to provide honesty to the story.

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