Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Schanberg nails it

In my "Plame and simple" piece, I argued that a reporter's highest duty is to the reader, and that granting anonymity to sources was only permissible if it led to a higher truth being shared with readers. Now here is what well-known veteran Sydney Schanberg of the Village Voice has to say:
Transparency is the overarching issue. And confronting the problem of anonymous sources, because they are anything but transparent, is a key. While in Indochina during the Vietnam War, after endless off-the-record briefings where half-truths and lies were told, I came to a new view of government disinformation. And this is it: When reporters agree with government officials not to disclose their identity, both sides are making a compact. Reporters are agreeing not to reveal who the sources are or even what government or agency they work for. And the sources, in return, are agreeing to tell reporters, yes, the truth.

What that meant to me was that if they told lies and I could demonstrate through solid reporting that they knew they had lied, then they had broken the compact and I was freed from my grant of confidentiality. And in one instance, in Cambodia, I concluded the compact had been broken and I wrote a story exposing the falsehoods. Not all my press colleagues agreed with my decision. One said that I should have told him and the other reporters at the briefing that I was going to write such a story. In retrospect, I think perhaps he was right. But my regrets are small, because it was my readers who had claim to my first loyalty.

Perhaps someone out there could translate Schanberg's piece into Pompouscorruptbitchian for the benefit of Judith Miller.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats