Confirm what your sources tell you. Fact-checking makes the difference between ethical journalism (which sometimes upsets the powerful) and propaganda (which always aids oppressors).
Once when I shared the journalism catchphrase “verify or duck,” some of my students laughed and told me they heard “verify your duck.”
The journalist’s reliance on the simplicity of “said” is a genre convention that helps avoid bias. A journalist who writes that a source “claimed” something introduces doubt. The word “explained” confers trust.
A news story starts with what’s most important, not with whoever spoke first at the event you’re covering.
It’s a good English essay if showcases the writer’s deep reading of already-published texts. It’s a good news story if it’s driven by unpublished quotations from credible sources you interviewed yourself.