New York Times sets stricter policy on anonymous sourcing
On Tuesday, The New York Times revealed its stricter policy for anonymous sourcing that requires every instance of anonymity to be approved by a top editor, according to Poynter.
The new policy comes after repeated urging from Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ public editor. A feature called “AnonyWatch” demonstrated examples of anonymous sourcing that Sullivan felt were “egregious” and an Oct. 2013 column identified faceless sources as among the biggest reader complaints.
The guidelines were announced to the newsroom in an email from Executive Editor Dean Baquet and reached after the consultation with Times’ “most experienced reporters and editors”
"The use of anonymous sources presents the greatest risk in our most consequential, exclusive stories," Baquet said in the email. "But the appearance of anonymous sources in routine government and political stories, as well as many other enterprise and feature stories, also tests our credibility with readers. They routinely cite anonymous sources as one of their greatest concerns about The Times’s journalism."
Baquet's email listed a series of conditions of when anonymity will be acceptable. They include:
A story whose primary news element requires anonymity requires an in-depth conversation with a major masthead editor such as Baquet, Deputy Executive Editor Matt Purdy or Deputy Executive Editor Susan Chira.
Every other instance of anonymity has to be approved by a department head or their deputy.
Anonymous direct quotes will be rarer and must be approved by a department head or deputy.
An editor must know the identity of an anonymous source before publication.