Years back when I did work with IrelandOffline I talked to a journalist about some telco gossip I heard. Something about the Govt not being happy with some new offering from eircom or something. I asked not to be attributed and to check with others about it. Watching Yes, Minister the other night reminded me of this. The next Sunday the story was printed gave me attribution as “sources close to the Government”. When I read some stories in papers nowadays when they have a “sources” anon quotation and then an on-record quote from someone else, I know that it’s the same person being quoted. I stress, for some. Anyway, enjoy this scene from Yes, Minister series 2 “The Death List”.
Here Jim Hacker leaks a story to the press in the usual way:
Jim Hacker: Where will they run it?
Journo: High up on the home news page.
Jim Hacker: – Not on page one?
Journo: Can I attribute it?
Journo: “Minister speaks out”?
Jim Hacker: – No, no, no.
Journo: Then, where did I get the story? I can’t say, “Officially announced.”
Jim Hacker: “Government spokesman”?
Journo: “Sources close to Minister”?
Jim Hacker: Hold on, I don’t want everybody to know I told you! Couldn’t you do, “Speculation is growing in Westminster”?
Journo: A bit weak.
Jim Hacker: “Unofficial spokesman”?
Journo: Used that twice this week already!
Jim Hacker: The Cabinet’s leaking like a sieve, isn’t it?
Journo: Couldn’t we attribute it to a leading member of the sieve… Cabinet?
Jim Hacker: No…
Journo: How would you like to be “an informed source”?
Jim Hacker: OK. “Informed source.”
Journo: Quite a joke, isn’t it, describing someone as “informed”when his Permanent Secretaryis Sir Humphrey Appleby?
I seem to remember another episode where Humphrey leaks something by denying it to the papers.
Industry Observer = journo two desks over from the author.