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WaPo’s Shapira Questions Journos ‘Sniffing Out’ Other Journos

dog-sniff.jpg WaPo’s Ian Shapira is irate with Politico’s Patrick Gavin, who has been filling in on the “On Media” page.

Why? In a story Gavin published yesterday regarding the potential purchase of the TWT, Shapira claims Gavin sought to find out who Shapira’s sources are — a practice that makes Shapira “grimace”. To read Gavin’s post, he’s reporting on the reporting that has been done about on TWT’s potential sale, which is in line with what media writers do — they cover what the media is covering. In addition, it appears Gavin is questioning the accuracy of WaPo’s reporting, which is essential in a story like this when sources have motives.

FishbowlDC sought comment from Gavin but he declined. Gawker, however, has taken Shapira to task with this post. “In how many ways is Ian Shapira wrong?” writes Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan. “Let us brainstorm.”

An excerpt from Shapira’s story:
…Politico reporter Patrick Gavin’s story was in part about who my sources might have been.

“Who’s doing the leaking?” he asked. I grimaced. Why would another reporter seek to expose anonymous sources? I can understand why company or government officials, or anyone threatened by the release of unauthorized information, might feel motivated or obliged to sniff out those who were giving information to reporters.

…But it’s rare for journalists to try to out a competitor’s unnamed sources. Presumably, reporters don’t have quite the same interests as government prosecutors or corporate chiefs. Even as we are competing on a story, reporters share a mutual interest in preserving a free-flowing environment — in making potential sources feel comfortable providing important information to reporters without feeling as if they are therefore subject to being exposed by a reporter’s peers. To Gavin’s credit, he didn’t actually create a list of names of people who might have been my sources, but his speculation about even just one name bothered me.”

Read Shapira’s full story here.

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