The NYTPicker site has a great dissection of a story by New York Times tech writer Brad Stone where every quoted source was a friend of the reporter or someone linked to the paper.
NYTPicker writes, “We don’t yet know to what extent Stone made his editors aware, if at all, of the various personal and professional connections that tied his sources to each other, to him, and/or to the NYT itself. We emailed Stone and Larry Ingrassia, the NYT business editor, to whom Stone reports, for comment earlier today.
“But we do know that readers expect, when they read a page-one NYT trend story, that the reporter has made ample effort to prove his thesis by casting a wide net for examples and evidence.
“Readers don’t presume — unless told otherwise — that the sources quoted in a story have worked with the reporter, have made regular appearances in the NYT, or (as in Glaser’s case) have been paid by the NYT.
“It may not violate the paper’s rules, but in our view it betrays the reader’s trust for a NYT reporter to have made so little effort to find examples outside his own insular world, and to have failed to thoroughly identify his sources for readers. Those failures diminish the value of a trend story dependent primarily on anecdotes, especially one given such prominent display on the NYT’s front page.”
Read more here.