In How the Guardian decides which sources can be deemed trustworthy – a piece oozing with so much self-congratulation you might slip over on it – Chris Elliot praises his fellow journalists on The Guardian for their impeccable sources. Worthy of particular mention is the obituary section. To find out just how dead Christopher Lee was we are told the Guardian’s obituary team turned to The Daily Telegraph to discover he was very dead indeed, according to his widow. Elliot goes on to reassure us “… as a rule that would not necessarily be enough”.
And, if we didn’t know already, whereas The Guardian relies on any old anonymous spokesperson for the government for its reliable information, we need not worry that students will be trusted to tell the truth. In order for us to know exactly how much credence is attributed to students we are given one rule of thumb Guardian journalists use in brackets “(eg ‘A student who says she witnessed the riot’, not ‘A student who witnessed the riot’)”. It’s a pity Elliot didn’t clarify how much credence is given to a milkman’s account, or a ratcatcher’s. That’s something we’d all like to know.
We do know The Guardian gives a lot of credence to shopkeepers by the amount of space the newspaper devotes to information on the war in Syria supplied by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is run by Rami Abdulrahman from his two-bedroom terraced home in Coventry. Coincidentally, another of their sources for war stories is also headquartered in the English Midlands. Elliot Higgins of Bellingcat reports on the latest front line action in Ukraine from his bedroom in Leicester. So reliable are both sources that the Guardian never questions the information they provide.