No mind reading allowed
While we’re on the subject of “says” and similar verbs of expression…
In addition to all the silly synonyms I listed in my previous post on the subject, it’s also wise–journalistically–to avoid words that imply you have mind reading skills and actually know what the speaker is thinking. That means “thinks,” “feels,” “believes,” “understands,” and so on are O-U-T, out. If the subject says he feels relieved… Then. Say. That.
WRONG: Senator Cornwall feels the fight for the nomination has gone on too long.
BETTER: Senator Cornall says he feels the fight for the nomination has gone on too long.
PROBABLY BEST: Senator Cornwall says the fight for the nomination has gone on too long.
In some cases, where you really are dealing with Senator Cornwall’s interior, emotional state, the middle form, “says he feels,” is a better choice than just plain “says.”
Senator Cornwall says he thinks both candidates have turned in disappointing performances.
Consider this practice another form of accurate attribution… a subject we’ll come to soon.