Journalistic writing is direct, concise and precise. As “Elements of Style” says: “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
Reporters are intrinsically skeptical of all sources–eyewitnesses included—for good reason. At the same time, they are also hugely dependent on sources for their reporting and dare I say, their very livelihood.
Remember, not everything is Google-able, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth verifying. Fact-checkers keep an arsenal of resources in their tool belts: a telephone, publication databases and a box of colored pencils.
Loaded language should come with the warning, “Handle with Care.” This term refers to words and phrases that induce a strong emotional response and carry a positive or negative connotation beyond their literal meaning.
To answer that question, you have to go back to 1996 and what’s known as the “26 words that created the internet.”
It’s true that “making up names” for anonymous sources might be a good narrative device to help the reader see a source as a three-dimensional human, but a journalist is in the business of telling the truth.
The use of anonymous sources in journalism has always been a thorny but widespread practice. News consumers don’t like them because they are deprived of knowing who is making that statement, claim or charge. Journalists don’t like them either but view them as a necessity, particularly in matters of national security when sources are loath to go on the record.
There are two distinct situations that could lead to this scenario.
I love your skepticism! I also like that you’re thinking critically about what we’re teaching you and asking us to explain things that don’t sound right.
You do! The job doesn’t pay much but will keep you on your toes.