Protecting sources

Salon.com, in its discussion of the pressure on journalists to testify in the Wen Ho Lee and Valerie Plame affairs, seems to side with various grand poo-bahs of journalism in drawing an absolute line.

According to this view, sources who use, or try to use, journalists to spread disinformation or to further a plan to reveal the identities of covert CIA officers are entitled to exactly the same protection from those journalists as sources who make revelations in the public interest. All of the arguments come down to the principle that it’s impossible to make distinctions.

It’s true that anything less than a blanket policy of protecting all sources will discourage some sources from coming forward. True. So what?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

One thought on “Protecting sources”

  1. Mark's Got A Point.

    It's true that anything less than a blanket policy of protecting all sources will discourage some sources from coming forward. True. So what? He's right. Honestly, if a man uses a journalist to spread lies and break the law, the…

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