The use of attribution, though, doesn't necessarily mean that reporters are all that committed to accuracy and honesty. Attribution serves only to protect reporters in the event of lawsuits for libel.
Let me give you a glaring example. When Salvadoran leader Roberto D'Aubuisson Arrieta was alive, countless "news" reports said that he "has been linked to right-wing death squads." So, what was the link, and who did the linking? Not one of them got into specifics, and it was as if they were singing from the same page of musical arrangement. The day after D'Aubuisson's death in 1992, the official report in the press said that he "personally ordered the deaths of hundreds" of political opponents. While it may or may not have been true, no attribution or evidence of any kind was offered for this sudden revelation. After all, dead men can't sue.
In this article, I have dealt only with some of the main aspects of news reporting on which people pull the wool over their own eyes. Check out the rest of the series:
"Mythical Beings that Inhabit the Matrix, Part 2: Politicians" and
"Mythical Beings that Inhabit the Matrix, Part 3: Pastors
"Mythical Beings that Inhabit the Matrix, Part 4: Doctors"
I intend to post the other articles in this series in the days to come.
To see other ways that people are fooled by the news media—or fool themselves—see the five-part series “How News Reporting Really Works.”