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The Media and Washington’s Anonymous Source Culture

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
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“The demand for anonymity by officials leaves journalists grappling with an unpleasant trade-off: use the information and risk alienating readers with more unnamed sources, or leave it out and risk having a less informative article that fails to match those done by competing news organizations,” the Washington Post’s Christopher Lee writes in an article exploring the anonymous source culture that has long-reigned in the nation’s capital. Former White House spokesman Michael McCurry suggests the practice can work against the journalistic goal of accuracy: “The more that a government official knows that he or she will be quoted by name, the more they work hard to make sure they are absolutely right in what they say.” (2/21/06)