Deciphering clues in a news article to understand how it was reported

🔗 a linked post to » — originally shared here on

I’ve personally been bewildered by the story that’s been unfolding since Sam Altman was fired by the board of directors of the OpenAI non-profit last Friday. The single biggest question for me has been why—why did the board make this decision?

Before Altman’s Ouster, OpenAI’s Board Was Divided and Feuding by Cade Metz, Tripp Mickle and Mike Isaac for the New York Times is one of the first articles I’ve seen that felt like it gave me a glimmer of understanding.

It’s full of details that I hadn’t heard before, almost all of which came from anonymous sources.

But how trustworthy are these details? If you don’t know the names of the sources, how can you trust the information that they provide?

This is where it’s helpful to understand the language that journalists use to hint at how they gathered the information for the story.

Simon’s analysis here is quite astute.

I can confirm that my journalism school taught us a great deal about how to build trustworthy relationships with sources and how to protect them with anonymity.

They also taught us that it's important to try your hardest to not use anonymous sources in your reporting. Using anonymous sources requires a great deal of trust on behalf of your reader, which is hard to obtain in this day and age of "fake news."

Anyway, this article does a great job of breaking down the intent behind some of the jargon you see in news reports. It's worth a read if you are interested in increasing your media literacy (which everyone should be).

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