Monday, February 26, 2007

Journal Entry: Poynter articles on student journalism and unnamed sources

Student Journalism:
The case provided here was clearly an example of a poor decision on the part of opinion editor John Petroski and his editors. The article is in bad taste to begin with and is further muddled but its poor execution of satire. His article deserves scorn but its such an easy target and one so many of us can agree on, that I don't think it merits the reaction its recieved. Petroski should be fired and forgotten. His editors should learn to scrutinize editorialists more. What bothers me about stories like these is that I sometimes think they get in the way of us talking about more controversial, more complex media issues. The case here is so cut and dry, so overwhelmingly condemned that it shouldn't take this long to work through the situation.

The Role of Unnamed sources:
It's hard for me to judge this article. I think the writer's idea to track the number of unnamed sources is a good one but I doubt that any news organization would voluntarily provide its audience with this tool. It would most likely have to be conducted by a separate entity. It would also need to take into account the environment in which a reporter works. Clearly a source with a name is better than one without but I think that the environment in which a Washington reporter works is entirely different from the one in which a city government reporter works is entirely different from the one in which a Hollywood reported works. The power, and money that flows in Washington has to have an effect on how people deal with the media. Every word a politician says is managed, scripted or shaped in someway. I'd imagine it's almost impossible to get anyone to say anything straight-forwardly if they know that they're name is going to appear next to it. We need names wherever possible but we also need unnamed sources if they are our only means to knowing what is going on in Washington.