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


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.