Here's the Scoop: August 6, 2008

Who said that?
Can’t anyone keep a secret anymore? It seems that every time a news story breaks, that there’s an “anonymous source” ready and willing to blab confidential information about the case. A few actual examples follow: “She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the case,” or how about: “‘The Syrian reactor was similar in design to a North Korean reactor that has in the past produced small amounts of plutonium,’ a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.”
I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel really warm and fuzzy knowing that such nuclear secrets are so closely guarded.
As a part-time news reporter, I truly value the information that can be provided by nameless sources. Many stories would never get told without such leads.
On the other hand, I also understand that “leaks” can be both good and bad. Some folks are trying to get vital information to the public for the benefit of mankind. Other folks have an ulterior motive for wanting certain information to make its way into the minds of the public. It’s called politics.
It just seems that lately every source is anonymous. Doesn’t anybody take responsibility anymore?

Time-saving device
The good part of the “anonymous source” epidemic for reporters, is that it saves a lot of time. There’s no need to waste lots of energy actually interviewing folks and tracking down leads. Nope, just sit down, make up some statements that you think people might say, and you’ve got a story. A nice one, too.
Plus, there’s the added benefit that no one can ever say they were misquoted!
Naturally, I’m kidding about this. Well, I wouldn’t do it, but such cases are pretty well documented.
Of course, it’s becoming more common for “The Man” to try to force reporters to reveal their story sources. This leads to another ugly series of events.
I don’t know what the answer is to anonymous sources — they are both important and annoying. This is opposed to Paris Hilton, who is merely annoying.
I’m not sure why the whole idea of anonymous newsmakers is so upsetting. Maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t have anyone spilling their guts to me for a Pulitzer Prize-winning story.
That’s not exactly true, either. Here at the News, we get a certain amount of “nameless callers” who are more than happy to report the activities of their “friends” and neighbors. These people are pretty secretive and usually speak in hushed tones. They don’t want their names involved, but they know tons about lots of things. Repeat, cannot have their names known. Ever. They must protect themselves because they know soooo much — with the possible exception of the benefits of Caller ID.