Monday, February 26, 2007

Scepticism and KSFR revisited

A week or so ago I mentioned a public broadcaster, KSFR public radio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose news director had directed his staff to “ignore national stories citing unnamed government sources.”

Readers may recall that KSFR’s rationale for this policy is the view that

“High administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity,” “Usually reliable Washington sources,” and others of the like were behind the publicity that added credibility to the need to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’ve noted that such a policy might “rule out a lot of the reporting of people like Seymour Hersh, who broke a number of big stories, from the My Lai atrocity during the Vietnam War, to the Abu Ghraib abuses in Baghdad, and much else.”

As it happens, this week has seen another apparent scoop by Hersh, in which he cites “unnamed current and former US officials” disclosing that the Bush Administration has been planning fast-response bombing attacks, under various scenarios, on various Iranian targets.

The source article by Hersh is a good read — perhaps even a must-read — but I’m curious as to whether KSFR would allow such a story, sourced from “unnamed officials”, to be run on their news service.

Given the public’s right to know as a fundamental journalistic imperative, how could you not run it?

And if you run this story, then where do you draw a line — on which stories citing “unnamed officials” get a run, and which don’t — without one’s editorial policy crossing a line into censorship?


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