I spoke at a conference for journalism students all this week. On Wednesday, I talked to the students a bit about anonymous sourcing, and when it’s appropriate. There’s a time and place for anonymous sources, and that’s generally when they’re blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, and could face serious repercussions if named.
Unfortunately, anonymous sourcing is least appropriate when it’s most often used—in political reporting. Washington reporters routinely grant anonymity to political sources for absurd, banal, self-serving “insights.”
Which brings us to this Washington Post article about growing conservative disaffection with Mitt Romney.
“The fact that he doesn’t change his position . . . that’s the upside for us,” said one Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the campaign. “He’s not going to change his mind on these issues to put his finger in the wind for what scores points with these parts of the party.”
Thank goodness WaPo reporters Philip Rucker and Peter Wallsten gave anonymity to this Romney adviser. If they hadn’t, we’d never have learned that Romney is a principled, honorable politician unswayed by fickle primary voters. Bold!