10/22/2005: Applying *Standards* for 'Confidentiality'?
Hmm...this one seems like a No-Brainer for the issue of having some *standards* apply BEFORE a reporter promises a blanket of confidentiality to a potential "source":
"Bill Kovach, the former Times Washington bureau chief, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, has publicly voiced what many in and around the paper are saying privately.
"When I was chief of the bureau in Washington," he told Sidney Blumenthal, "we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them. If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake."
Regardless of the discussions about enacting a Federal Shield law to protect reporters, this is the underlying premise of what should be the bottom-line of confidentiality promises.
Hat tip to The Huffington Post.
Karen on 10.22.05 @ 08:01 AM CST