Sunday, January 17, 2010

Named sources ensure accountability

Haven't been following the buzz about the Obama administration's relationship with their health care reform modeler Gruber that has Glenzilla and FDL so excited. From what I've read, although disclosure would have been better, I'm not seeing that one as a major problem. But this piece by NYT public editor Clark Hoyt looking at conflicts of interest more generally highlights some I find more egregious, like Chertoff's business interest in full body scanners at airports.

The lack of disclosure is an ongoing problem in the media. Most of their expert pundits have some kind of conflict, the most serious and mostly unaddressed within the industry being the retired military experts routinely trotted out during the last administration to push Bush's wars. But the real takeaway here for me is the importance of using named versus the anonymous sources that have become a staple of big media "reporting." At least when the sources are named, people can do their own research to determine credibility based on conflicts. All too often, a buzz and subsequent outrage builds on anonymously sourced rumors. Seems to me the remedy to that is to refuse to take the bait unless it's clear the source has a legitimate reason to protect their identity.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]


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