Readers don’t trust anonymous sources, because the value of anonymous information isn’t explained to them

Many of the biggest political stories of the last few weeks have relied heavily on anonymous sources, NYT public editor Liz Spayd writes: “Reporters and editors trust such information, sometimes risking their reputation on it. Readers, on the other hand, couldn’t be more suspicious — and with reason. The descriptions generally tilt far more toward protecting the sources than giving readers confidence in what they said. … The crucial issue is that The Times doesn’t make a priority of telling readers more about sources’ motives and about their proximity to the information they claim to know something about. … There is a wide and perilous gulf between the value journalists place on anonymous sources and the value readers do. Some may never accept information with roots they cannot see. But many others might, if more rigor was placed on convincing them.”