The Washington Post ombudsman is taking his paper to task for overusing unnamed sources as well:
The Post has strict rules on the use of anonymous sources. They’re spelled out in detail — more than 3,000 words — in its internal stylebook.
But some of those lofty standards are routinely ignored. Others are unevenly applied. And despite the importance of those standards, many Post staffers lack a thorough knowledge of the policies and confess they haven’t reviewed them in years.
News organizations can pay dearly if they’re not vigilant about sourcing. At minimum, credibility can suffer. At worst, a damaging journalistic transgression can occur.
Anonymous sources are critical to newsgathering — and to informing readers. Without a guarantee of confidentiality, many sources wouldn’t share sensitive information on corruption or misconduct.
But anonymity can be overused and abused. Sources can make false or misleading assertions with impunity. Journalists can inflate a source’s reliability or even fabricate his or her existence.
Read the rest.