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NY Times Public Editor Starts Tracking Anonymous Quotes

MargaretSullivanHeadshotMargaret Sullivan, The New York Times’ public editor, has had it with the Times’ use of unnecessary anonymous quotes. To point out the practice, Sullivan has launched something she’s calling “AnonyWatch.” Sullivan described it as “an effort to point out some of the more regrettable examples of anonymous quotations in the Times.”

The first incident featured on AnonyWatch includes an article that allowed a “Democratic insider” to claim that “Andrew Cuomo doesn’t really have friends.” As Sullivan noted, this goes against the Times’ policy of not allowing anonymous sources to slander people.

Another article Sullivan called out was even worse. In a piece on the Malaysian Airlines plane, an anonymous quote was issued on an anonymously sourced theory that someone on the plane made abrupt shifts in altitude to “depressurize the cabin and render the passengers and crew unconscious.”

When Sullivan asked the Times’ managing editor Dean Baquet for comment on the articles, he said they were both mistakes. We look forward to AnonyWatch locating more of those errors.

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