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A small point about media sources

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PatsFaninAZ, May 8, 2008.

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  1. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    Typically, a media entity cannot be compelled to reveal a source. There are exceptions, but none that would likely apply in the Walsh case. The reason that newspapers do not reveal their sources and fight hard to protect them is so that they can give assurances to other confidential sources in the future.

    The protection that the media gives a source is basically contractual. Bob Woodward tells deep throat -- if you talk to me and let me use your information, I will never reveal your identity. These contracts are basicaly considered sacrosanct as a matter of journalistic ethics, and for good reason.

    However, all this goes out the window if a confidential source publicly denies that he was the source. At that point, the newspaper is, under well established jouranlistic standards and rules, entirely free to come forward and say, "oh yes you were." And they can play hardball -- they can defend themselves by showing reporters notes, transcripts, editors notes, or even tapes of the conversations.

    Walsh has now publicly denied that he was the Herald's source. As far as I know, the Herald has not contradicted that report. There really is only one implication if the Herald continues to refuse to contradict Walsh: That Walsh was NOT the Herald's source. This could mean (1) the Herald didn't have a source, or (2) it could mean that they had a different source. Number 1 is obviously bad and would expose them to considerable liability. Number 2 would not and would probably insulate them from liability, but raises a host of other questions -- who was their source? If it was someone claiming to know Walsh and giving second hand information -- my guess actually -- they really are scumbags with absolutely zero journalistic integrity.
  2. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You theory assumes that Tomase's source was Matt Walsh. I never thought Matt Walsh was the source of the story. Personally, I don't think there was ever a source.

    Besides, there is nothing stopping for Tomase and the Herald from pretending Walsh wasn't the source even if he was the source.
  3. NYCPatsFan

    NYCPatsFan Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    Plus, I thought I read in another thread on Mort (ESPN) that the Rams walkthru' taping allegation has been around for some time. If that is true, BH might have relied on other sources.
  4. TheGodInAGreyHoodie

    TheGodInAGreyHoodie Rookie

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    You have correctly stated the general principles of law for the majority of states. In fact 32 states, including your state of AZ, have enacted journalist privilege laws providing the protection you describe.

    However, among those minority of states that have not enacts such laws is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  5. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    It's correct that Mass has no *statutory* privilege, but there is a common law (court made) qualified privilege in MA.

    That said, I think people are missing my point. My point is that if Walsh denies he's the source, and the Herald does not contradict the point, then Walsh is almost certainly telling the truth.

    That's all.
    Last edited: May 8, 2008
  6. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Very informative thread, thank you!
  7. hambone1818

    hambone1818 Rookie

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    That's a very interesting post, thank you for that. I highlighted what I believe to be the most interesting portion. If, in fact, Walsh isn't the source (and this is like the old riddle with the three smartest men on earth...if, as you say, all rules are out the window once a source denies being the source, and the Herald hasn't come out refuting his information, one must assume that he is not the source).

    At this point, I would be surprised and disappointed if the Patriots don't pursue this legally. That would force one of the two above scenarios to play out: either a legitimate source were to surface with the tape (I'd put that at about 0.00001% probability), or the Herald is exposed for what it is: a friggin sensationalist rag. Even if nothing came of the suit, it would at least put them in their place.
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