1. The story was of great significance and absolutely unavailable in any other way.
2. Another reputable news organization had already published it and it was in
general circulation. In that case, it would be published with attribution to the
news organization that had originally published it. (Editor's note: Some people
might regard this approach as a cop-out -- as a way for a newspaper to publish
unsourced material without breaching the anonymous-source policy for its own
3. If one of USA TODAY's most veteran and respected reporters developed the
story, and it came from a highly trusted source with a history of honesty and
reliability. In that case, if the reporter could convince the editor that the story
was solid, then the reporter would be allowed to write it under his or her byline
and state it as something "USA TODAYhas learned." This technique -- used
very rarely -- put the onus squarely on the reporter, not on the source. And
even in these cases no unattributed direct quotes were permitted; the reporter
was required to "translate"or paraphrase what the unnamed source was saying
and state it in his or her own words.
In all of our roundtables, the frequency of errors was cited as a major reason why the public is increasingly skeptical of what it reads.
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