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Media planet



You didn't hear it from me, but journalists have started quoting real people in their articles. The annual Project for Excellence in Journalism report says the use of anonymous sources in US newspapers dropped significantly last year. Personally, I'm rather upset about the slow death of these shadowy figures.

Sometimes, these characters develop personalities of their own, while still managing to preserve their mystique. The most famous example is Deep Throat, the anonymous source who revealed sensitive government information to Washington Post reporters during the Watergate scandal. What you may not know is that Deep Throat was named after a porn movie featuring lots of oral sex. What you almost certainly don't know is his identity, which was never revealed.

Occasionally, the anonymous source is none other than the journalist writing the piece. It's our way of reporting something we know to be true, while saving valuable time. For instance, industry observers say that newspaper circulations around the world are declining. Get the idea ? I hope the American obsession with attribution (which does not stop them making ghastly mistakes) won't kill off anonymous. He's a shy chap, but extremely helpful.

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