When and how to trust sources

Over the months, I've touched on the problem of documents and sources and how far to trust them. The subject was suggested by the jailed conman who recently persuaded the Associated Press and Los

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Over the months, I've touched on the problem of documents and sources and how far to trust them.

The subject was suggested by the jailed conman who recently persuaded the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times that he was providing FBI documents that implicated rappers in a violent assault on a competitor.

thesmokinggun.com spotted the phonies when The Los Angeles Times posted them to support its story. Then AP backed off its earlier story. Ouch.

The need for trust creates tension between editor and reporter, reporter and sources and the news media and audiences. And let me add: Trust does not equal approval. Trust means that you expect someone to act as anticipated. A con man will con; a longtime reliable source will remain reliable.

Either way, that's why reporters check out information we're given, describe or name our sources and alert editors early and repeatedly to uncertainties.

If doubts aren't fatal to the story, unresolved questions are shared with readers, viewers and listeners.

Problematic documents and sources figured in a number of stories that I chased for The Enquirer.

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