Thank you, CNN, for providing the Trump administration with more ammunition for its “fake news” allegations. Our entire profession now has to deal with the consequences of your unprofessional sloppiness. Didn’t you learn anything from the Dan Rather fiasco in 2004 about over-relying on one source who may have an ax to grind?
On that topic, check out the Washington Post interview with SPJ Ethics Committee chair Andrew Seaman on when and why it’s acceptable to rely on just one anonymous source. Condensed version: the source is apparently the only one with access to the information; the information is vital to the public interest; and the source seems credible. But he also advocates the Woodward-Bernstein policy of verification from other sources if possible.
Robert Buckman, Ph.D. is a retired professor of journalism at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an SPJ Louisiana board member.