Nicholas Schmidle doesn’t think he led readers astray by not disclosing that Navy SEALs weren’t sources for his account of what happened the night the SEALS killed Osama bin Laden. “At no point did we mislead the reader into thinking that I had, in fact, interviewed SEALs directly,” Schmidle tells Mallary Jean Tenore. “It would be unusual, in an article about a highly classified subject, for the reporter to list who he did NOT speak to.” Tenore writes:
But it’s not a matter of listing who Schmidle didn’t talk to; it’s a matter of describing in greater detail the people he did speak with. Readers want more information about who reporters interviewed so they can judge for themselves how credible a reporter’s sources are. …
Journalists like Schmidle, who go to great lengths to tell powerful stories, owe it to themselves and their audience to explain how they got the story.