Teacher: Journalists who conceal the identity of the sources they quote stake their professional reputations on what ...

Boram on January 24, 2019


Can you explain answer choice (b)? Thank you!

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Jacob-R on February 1, 2019

Hi @Boram,

I’m happy to explain answer B, which was the correct answer. But first, let’s take a look at what the question stem is asking us: we want to find what reasoning flaw is contained in the student’s response.

For this type of question, I try to look at the argument, identify the flaw, and then put the flaw in my own words. Once I’ve done that, I see if any of the answer choices line up with what I’ve described.

Here, the Teacher says that when journalists conceal the identity of sources, they stake their reputation on the “logic of anecdotes.” The Teacher explains that this means that such statements are dissociated from their precise circumstances, and so get accepted for publication only if the statements are high in plausibility/originality/interest.

The student then responds: You are saying that the journalist doesn’t even need sources, then, because the journalist can invent plausible, original, or interesting stories faster than obtaining them from unidentified sources.

How would you describe that flaw? It seems like the student is missing a crucial point: the teacher isn’t saying that it is SOLELY because the statement is publicized because it is plausible/original/interesting. Instead, the teacher is saying the statement has to be all those things . . . and still come from an anonymous source! In other words, it isn’t the originality or plausibility that makes the quote inherently publishable. It is that it is interesting or original but comes from an unidentified source (who might not otherwise be quoted.)

And that is exactly what answer B says. The student ignores what the teacher implies the prerequisite for publication is, namely that it is actually a real statement that a source made! Which makes sense, too.

I hope this helps! Please let us know if you have further questions.