In journalistic writing, there is no good substitute for the verb “said.”
Still, beginning students are sometimes self-conscious about using “said” so much in their writing, and they try to find substitutes. The problem with a substitute is that they are laden with added meanings that the writer may not want to include. For instance, a writer might try to use “claimed” instead of “said.” Claimed implies doubt — as if to say, he “claimed” he did it, but we’re not sure. Be careful about using verbs of attribution; they may say more than you want to say.
Stick with the verb “said.” It’s simple and straightforward, and you won’t have to carry any extra baggage by adding to its meaning.
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