“[B]y casually agreeing to conceal the identities of those who provide non-critical information, The [Washington] Post erodes its credibility and perpetuates Washington’s insidious culture of anonymity,” wrote Post ombud Andrew Alexander in his column yesterday, laying out “evidence The Post’s use of anonymous sources is growing,” and declaring that “reporters should be blamed,” but “the solution must come in the form of unrelenting enforcement by editors, starting with those at the top.”
The New York Times’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, on his last day on the job, shared this anecdote from his “first day on the job:”
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, sat opposite me in a little room off his office, clapped his hands on his knees and said with a laugh: “Well, you’re here. You must be dumber than you look.”
And in a column in which Hoyt recalls that during his tenure he has, among other things, “deplored the overuse of anonymous sources,” he quotes, yes, an anonymous source:
[O]ne reader….wrote in 2008 to tell me that I had no standards whatsoever and that I “must have made a deal with the devil at a young age.” She would not let me use her name in this column because she said she did not want to lend authenticity to “such a pitiful guardian of truth and fairness.”Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.