Associated Press is solidifying its policy on anonymous sources:
One of the lengthiest parts of the new guidelines relates to anonymous sources, stating they can only be used if the material is informational, not opinion or speculation; with approval of a news manager; and if the manager knows the source’s identity.
The policy also would require that such sources be identified as specifically as possible, not simply as “a source,” and may not be cited elsewhere in the story as someone who declined comment. All anonymously sourced stories must also carry a byline, according to the policy.
The new ethics code also defines “on the record” as information used with no restrictions and quoting the source by name; “off the record” as information not used for publication; and “background” as information that can be published with specific conditions set by both parties.
This is great for AP. Now if only the NYT, WaPo, etc. would get their acts together and craft a policy equally as strict, if not more stringent.
The most important clarification is that AP will restrict (if they following their own guidelines) to informational material. One of my pet peeves, as longtime readers know, is anonymous sources used for speculation and conjecture.