I’ve heard it said before by someone who does this sort of thing for a living that the near-exclusive use of unnamed sources in sports reporting isn’t a problem. Why? Well, because, you know, it’s sports. We all love it, but it’s not war, famine, or politics. It’s transfer or trade rumors, injury stories, bland player testimonies. Who cares if the standards of journalism are a little sloppier? No harm, no foul. And if we make a mistake, no biggie!
This was the view from several established UK journalists in light of revelations that the Times had retracted a story on the utterly non-existent Dream Football League in Qatar. Here’s a perhaps non-representative example:
Can’t why times sport should have to “apologise”. Nobody’s been hurt. Is just a mistake. You’d have to actually choose to be upset about it
— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) March 18, 2013
And we take their point. But if they’re right and it’s all just silly, it raises the question: why are newspapers wasting money on this giant clan of employees who exist simply to tell us information slightly before the clubs send out an official release (or not)? Why not just keep the ones who tell us something interesting and verified or who are simply very good writers, and shuffle the rest out the door? They could save the industry!