‘Pat, Formulaic Expressions of Why an Anonymous Source Wants to Be Anonymous Are Probably Worse Than No Explanation at All’

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"They are uninformative and give readers the impression that our anonymity rules are on autopilot. Saying that a source insisted on anonymity because he was "not authorized" to speak is usually stating the obvious, and is of little or no help to a reader. Yet we've used that formulation nearly 300 times in the past year." —New York Times standards editor Phil Corbett in a memo to staff chastising them for getting lazy about confidential sourcing.