24 Jun, 2011
How Anonymous Sources Are Like Whitey Bulger
Posted by: admin In: Uncategorized
You can never be sure they’re telling the truth, writes Jack Schafer in Slate. Some interesting points about the similarities to the infamous FBI informant and the age-old journalism technique:
That collaborations between sources and journalists rarely result in murder is something for which we can all be grateful. But the parallels are too many to ignore. Like cops, journalists become tethered to their sources of information. The source’s health becomes the journalist’s health. A reporter assigned to cover a governor or a senator with presidential potential would be short-sheeting his career by savaging his subject. Better to ride the escalator up with the politician and his staff from the statehouse to the White House.
Meanwhile, the astute politician (businessman, celebrity, sports star, academic, etc.) or members of his staff know the value of having a trusted reporter who can convey both good and bad news to the public. If news is sourced anonymously, the public never need be any the wiser about how and why the stories were planted.
Offering anonymity does weave a tangled web.