Tuesday, May 11, 2004

And yet another AP entry
The gnomes on the AP style desk (OK, Norm, apologies for that) have been busy. Another new entry, this one detailing how anonymous sources should be used. Among other suggestions:
  • Don't attributed it to sources when it's well-known, obvious or common sense

  • Must not be opionion, must have "signficant value"

  • Only when essential and with as complete source ID as possible

  • Seek more than one source

One one hand, as one who teaches journalists-to-be, I guess I'm glad to see AP spell out such things because when they see it in "the book," it carries a bit more weight. On the other hand, when we have to spell all this out, does it say something about our journalistic common sense?
In the classroom and on my first couple of jobs, I was blessed with professors and news directors who didn't write all this down. They had three basic rules: You don't attack someone anonymously, you'd better have at least two sources for the information or show that you tried to contact a lot more than that to confirm, and you'd better be specific in your ID. That pretty much covered it, and it was part of the culture, not part of the book.


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