Times Sports gets hard-nosed about sources

L.A. Times Sports Editor Randy Harvey felt he had to bang his writers and editors over the head yesterday about the paper's rules regarding unnamed sources, threatening written reprimands and reduced raises in an emailed staff memo. Here's the meat:

The purpose of this memo is to issue a warning. Future violations of the policy could result in a letter of reprimand to your permanent file, significant deductions in your next performance review and a reduction in the size of your raise....

Not quite two weeks ago, I sent out a memo reminding you all of our policy on sources and of the need to adhere to it. Iím not sure why Iím having to re-remind some of you, but apparently it is necessary. Three times in the last week, we have violated the policy.

Basically, it is this:

# Donít go with a one-source story. We need at least two. If you have only one, it better be the voice of God or the person who is so close to the inside that he or she couldnít possibly be wrong. And let Mike James, Steve Clow, your assignment editor or me know who that one source is. Donít let readers suspect you heard it on the freaking radio.

# Describe as best you can why the source is reliable. No, it is not good enough to say ďa reliable source.Ē A high-ranking league official, someone with intimate knowledge of the negotiations, someone close to the player, etc., etc.

# Explain succinctly why the sources could not be identified. This isnít a gossip sheet where weíll go with anything from anybody.

# If you use a source or sources, it had better not get in the paper or on the web in the future without clearance from Mike James, Steve Clow or me.

This is an important issue to the new editor, Russ Stanton. It is an important issue to me. It is an important issue to the readers. It needs to be an important issue to all of you.

Before posting, I asked Harvey via email what's up. He replies after the jump:


Thanks for letting me know in advance and giving me an opportunity to elaborate.

I donít doubt the reporters or editors in this department. I donít want to give the readers any reason to doubt them, either. So I think itís necessary that we adhere to the Timesí policy in regard to sourcing. The precipitating events were a couple of previous memos about this subject that didnít have the desired effect. Thatís all this is about.


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