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Monday, March 21, 2005

Kurtz Says USA Today's Paulson Cut Newsroom Use of Anonymous Sources

More from The Washington Post: Howard Kurtz has a great piece this morning on how USA Today editor Ken Paulson has clamped down on use of anonymous sources, following the Jack Kelley scandal.

Sometimes anonymous sources are essential to reporting the news, but their use has exploded in the MSM in the past two decades and things were clearly getting out of hand, both in reporters' overuse and sources hiding behind anonymity for statements they ought to be willing to make in public.

But then I ran across this graph in the Kurtz piece:

"To grant someone anonymity, Paulson says, 'you have to go to a managing editor, identify that source -- which was at the heart of the Jack Kelley mess -- explain why we trust that source and how it moves the story forward.' Paulson also runs Jones's picture on the editorial page, inviting feedback -- because, he says, past complaints about Kelley never reached or were dismissed by senior editors."

Brent Jones is USA Today's Reader Representative.

What caught my eye about the Paulson quote is that he has instated in the USA Today newsroom the same standard in force two decades ago when I was a reporter and editor at The Washington Times. Dare I say it? USA Today is catching up with the Times?