Said will do starts: “Use the verb said when you report someone’s words”.
Said is a wise advice for journalists. The word is neutral and judgement free. This makes it a safe and accurate choice.
A simple word like said is readily understood and unambiguous — always a sign of good writing.
Don’t let people tell you sticking with said makes your writing boring. Boring is sitting through a defamation action because someone misinterpreted an alternative word.
You may hear said referred to as the ‘verb of attribution’. The term is correct but, outside of academic discussions about language, not the best name.