On the Condition of Anonymity
Unnamed Sources and the Battle for Journalism
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: The History of Communication
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Writing a book seems quite deceptively to be a solitary undertaking. In reality, I owe an enormous amount of credit to the many smart and supportive people surrounding me over the past six or so years. I am forever grateful for the education I received from the Annenberg School for Communication...
introductionThe Problems—and Promise—of Unnamed Sources
Readers of the May 26, 2004, New York Times opened their papers to find an unusual note from editor Bill Keller on page A10. Fourteen months after the invasion of Iraq, the newspaper took itself to task for having bungled its reporting on the buildup to what...
1. Media Culpas: Prewar Reporting Mistakes at the New York Times and Washington Post
In the early months of 2007, a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., hosted the unusual spectacle of journalists testifying about their behindthe- scenes interactions with executive branch officials. The trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the result of...
2. "Blogs 1 CBS 0": 60 Minutes and the Killian Memos Controversy
On Wednesday, September 8, 2004, in the midst of the hard-fought 2004 presidential campaign between incumbent George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, 60 Minutes aired a segment titled “For the Record” questioning whether President Bush had..
3. Journalists Fight Back: Newsweek and the Koran Abuse Story
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, no political topic consumed the American public more than the constellation of actions and policies dubbed the “War on Terror” by the U.S. government. The Bush administration’s aggressive multipronged...
4. Deep Throat and the Question of Motives
The public struggle to define news controversies involving unnamed sources regularly centers on questions of motive. Why has the source come forward, but only partly? Why be veiled at all? What is being left out? The subject of motive is particularly...
5. "Journalism on Trial": Confidentiality and the Plame Leak Case
Dan Rather’s hasty retirement, the failings of Newsweek, and remembrances of Watergate and Deep Throat were all still fresh in the public mind when, on June 27, 2005, the latest scuffle over unnamed sources grabbed the limelight after the U.S. Supreme Court...
6. Rethinking Anonymity: Problems and Solutions
As the dust clears from a string of struggles over unnamed sources at elite news outlets, the inevitable question arises: how did the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS News, Time, and Newsweek all become embroiled in controversies involving...