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Don Ohlmeyer and the Scourge of the Unnamed Source

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Michael Echan, May 27, 2010.

  1. Michael Echan

    Michael Echan Member


    I think this is a great piece about sourcing by Ohlmeyer. He does a pretty good job in using the Dez Bryant and Pujols-for-Howard stories as examples, breaking them down well. Hell, I think this should even be used in high school & college journalism classes.

    Unnamed sources are necessary for us to do our jobs, but do you think they have become over-used and abused in recent years?
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Yes, yes, a million times yes. Journalists refuse to understand how much it damages their credibility to use these unnamed sources.
  3. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    agree 1,000 percent. there's a proper time and place for sourcing -- significant, sensitive subject matter backed by multiple voices in the know not wishing to be i.d.'d -- but it's grossly overused. a lazy journalist's way out. "the washington post's" watergate coverage began the spread of the disease, when every reporter in the world wanted to be woodward and bernstein. the post, in particular has gotten -- or had gotten -- carried away with sourcing. today, the n.y. tabs use unidentified sources for any bit of news, no matter how banal.

    sourcing contributes mightily to the growing mistrust of the media. in our shop, the word "source" cannot be used. we must do what we can to come as close to i.d.'ing the person without outing him, to let people know it's not coming seventh-hand from a janitor. as in, "according to a high-ranking team official not authorized to speak for thel
  4. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    Agree, mostly. Question, though. Say the source is Joe Trainer in Club X's front offce. 90 percent of the general public has never heard of Joe Trainer. So in reality, for most of your audience, isn't saying accoring to Joe Trainer and not naming anyone essentially the same thing?
  5. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    essentially, no. was that really a serious question? ??? ??? :eek: :eek: ??? ???
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    A) I don't think unnamed sources was ever a major cause of our credibility issues. If somebody can prove me wrong with data as opposed to "people don't believe us because we use unnamed sources," have at it. WRONG unnamed sources -- that's another matter.

    B) I have never been part of the "woe is our business if we use unnamed sources" school of thought. And I've always thought the whole unnamed sources issue was better covered by taking each case individually rather than blanket rules. "We never used unnamed sources" and "We must have two sources on every story." What if the single source is President Obama saying he's going to resign? You're going to wait on that? (Intentionally absurd example.)

    C) But Shockey, if you're talking strictly about the word "sources," I see your point. The more specific as to what kind of source, the better.
  7. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    When I was a newsside editor and a newbie reporter gave me a story with nothing but unnamed sources, I'd immediately ask who the sources were and would run it by the editor, who had been in the area much longer than I had. If it turns out the source had an axe to grind, we'd spike it.

    That said, there are times where I wonder if we overuse unnamed sources. For example, if a soucre I trusted were to tell me about Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and Floyd Landis were all shooting up 'roids in the back room of a Denny's off I-40 in Alburquerque, OK ... but just to confirm the hiring of a new coach, or the whole was Griffey asleep in the clubhouse saga?
  8. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    The question is does the name itself mean anything to the audience?
  9. NBrom

    NBrom New Member

    to take it a step further, do many believe that "sources" are being used as ways for journalists to publish their own connecting the dots theories without getting burned themselves?
  10. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    If you're experienced on a pro beat, you can figure out the source a lot of the times. Like when it's a "Team X is interested in Coach Y" it's the agent. If it's a "Your Baseball Team is interested in adding a bat" it's the GM. Etc and so on.
  11. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Vince Doria says "Who gives a fuck?"
  12. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    The problem with unnamed sources is while less credible in fact - it comes across as more credible in print or on TV since the viewer/reader assumes that a) the leaker knows what he is talking about or they wouldn't be being quoted and b) the news nugget is being kept hush-hush because it is embarrasing or awaiting final approval.
    I understand the rule of protecting your sources, I've never understood the rule of protecting sources who gave you bad info.
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