Anonymous Sources

I did a kinda snarky, mean-spirited post last week criticicizing local politics blogger Joe Monahan. The guy bugs me because what he does seems, to many readers, to pass for new journalism. He’s an entertaining blogger, but his obsessive use of anonymous sources falls far short of what for me serves as useful journalism.

Matt over at FBIHOP has a nice discussion this afternoon of the issue:

In Monahan’s case, his anonymous “Alligators” always are pushing a certain issue. But we can’t analyze the reason someone is pushing a certain point of view because we are always missing a key piece of context from Monahan: The who.

At their most important, anonymous sources are underling government employees speaking truth to power at risk of their jobs. Those folks need to be protected. Monahan’s alligators, though, are just people who occupy some pocket of New Mexico politics idea space. By not naming them, Monahan exploits readers’ sense that he has some special information. It gives the message being sent a certain insiders’ cachet. But all it really does is obfuscate, allowing the alligators to get away with unaccountable spin.


  1. Pingback: Week’s End Flashback: Open ConCom Bill signed, Health Care Reform, polluter bailouts, more Monahan mashing, King v. Balderas and a Pot Poll «

  2. I started Whistle-Safe (the site is now dormant) to allow anonymous bureaucrats to expose bad deeds, BUT that site was supposed to be used as a place for generating leads that REAL reporters would go out and confirm. Merely repeating rumors (sorry, stories) does NOTHING for getting to the bottom…

    If you know of a foundation (or similar) that wants to get my site (a non-profit) back on the web, email me 🙂

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