Unnamed Sources

Your news analysis, "Media Assuming Key Role in Hostage Crisis Dealings," Aug. 11 (Part I), shows again why the public is not served by the use of unattributed sources and how a lack of checks and balances on the ultimately profit-motivated press is . . . a dangerous thing.

The New York Times says their story citing a U.S. threat of military action if the hostage Joseph Cicippio had been killed was not a one-source story. The number of sources is not the issue; the identity of the sources is. If The New York Times had identified the sources, they could have "stood by their story" by pointing to its source and would not have to defend against criticism that the piece was an Administration plant by saying, "Trust me, I'm a journalist."

When journalists have big bucks, careers and reputations on the line and politicians are made or broken in the media, common sense says not to put blind faith in journalistic integrity. I say, if a story is worthy reporting to the public, name at least one source. And name the confirming source as well, if possible. The public has a right to know.

BARRY COLMAN

Los Angeles

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