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Memphis Reporter Cites Anonymous “Sources” for Murder Confession

In Editor's Desk, Memphis, Tennessee on February 16, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Janice Broach (Courtesy: WMC)

WMC-TV

It’s a big no-no, and honestly, a Memphis station should know better.

But in a breaking news report on WMC-TV’s website earlier tonight, reporter Janice Broach said “sources” told the NBC affiliate about a man being held in custody in connection with post office shootings last year in Henning, Tenn., that killed two people.

The problem here is a thin line that exists for journalists: anything that isn’t sourced can’t be verified. Saying “sources” in a report is asking someone to trust you, when, if you got the information through the proper channels, you could quote the actual authorities involved.

I’m sure there’s more to this story than meets the eye, but this article highlights a big pet peeve of mine. Unless you work in Washington where power players pass rumors around like party favors (and the Beltway gossip is reportable fodder), don’t use anonymous sources. It doesn’t do your viewers justice, and in the case of WMC-TV, it seriously compromises your credibility.

/end rant

And yes, this is my opinion.

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