My journalism students learn that when reporters quote from a press release, they should make it clear that they haven’t actually spoken to the person quoted.

Such quotes should be attributed somthing like this:

“We’re really disappointed with our profits,” Chief Executive Wallace Owens said in a prepared statement.

Apparently some news organizations have stopped making this distinction.

Here’s a quote from a Wall Street Journal article:

“The U.S. housing market has continued to deteriorate,” said Stuart Miller, Lennar’s chief executive. He blamed increased use of sales incentives and certain land adjustments for the shortfall, and cut fiscal-third-quarter guidance to a range of $1.25 to $1.35, down from Thomson Financial’s consensus estimate of $1.81.

Here’s the press release from which that quote was lifted.

I’ve seen similar quotes in several other Wall Street Journal articles, so it’s not simply the writer’s fault. The paper has clearly adopted this attribution rule as a policy or become rather lax in its oversight of writers.

Either way, the Journal’s not setting the bar for journalistic itegrity very high.