Monday, February 15, 2021

Naming Names and Petty Vindictiveness

I understand that, in the name of journalistic ethics, some outlets frown on pseudonyms. I've run into this problem myself.

When I was writing an article for RECOIL on the topic of slings on home defense long guns, I contacted a few various well-respected trainers/SME's to get a variety of viewpoints, pro and con. The thing is, one of the people whose views on the matter I cited was someone I "internet-knew" who was, at the time, a U.S. Army SF dude still a year or so short of retiring.

Mindful of not wanting his views to seem like they were the official views of his employer, I quoted him by first name and last initial. This caused some editorial back-and-forth because RECOIL has journalistic ethics and you don't just quote someone, label their opinion as expert, and then not name them so that readers can research and decide for themselves how much weight to give it.

We eventually hashed out his bona fides to the satisfaction of the magazine's editorial board and the article went forward in the fashion you can read at the link

But suppose the end result had been and the loggerheads? Suppose the verdict had been "either name him or delete the content"? What would my obligation then be as a writer, or as a decent person, even?

Obviously I'd have had to delete his remarks and find another person to cite in that portion of the article, because there are personal ethics that balance and accompany journalistic ones.