SBJ/December 16 - 22, 2002/Opinion

Sez who? Let readers know who sources are

I have been a paid subscriber for more than a year, enjoying both your weekly publication and your Web site.

I do have one complaint. Scrutinize the stories in this past week's [Nov. 18-24] Journal with an eye directed toward anonymous sources. It's amazing. Every story on your front included unnamed sources. Many stories on the inside of the magazine also had sources your writers did not reveal. You even use anonymous sources in the Coast to Coast roundup section. It's so pervasive that a one-paragraph item in the Indianapolis section had two references to sources.

Is this good journalism?

Doesn't the proliferation of unnamed sources in your publication bother you? It sure troubles me. If people aren't willing to put their name with their comments, how is the reader able to assess the veracity of their statements? What agenda might they have? We don't know because your writers don't tell us.

In your quest to be first, you owe it to the readers to be both accurate and on-the-record. Anonymity from a source should be the rarest of exceptions. But your apparently cavalier approach to allowing anonymity in virtually every story of importance demeans your otherwise solid reporting.

I won't hide behind anonymity at the end of this letter and will happily provide my name. Shouldn't we expect the same from the experts cited in your stories?

Jim Lefko


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