I almost never link to message boards, but this one time, I'm going to make an exception, because I think folks should read Gil LeBreton's comments over at the Newberg Report forums.
LeBreton specifically is responding to and addressing the complaints that sports columnists -- in particular, Randy Galloway and Gerry Fraley -- are either making up "sources" for their stories, or else are using contrived or unreliable sources, and specifically says:
Let me try to correct some misconceptions about how we do our job. Columnists like myself, Jim Reeves, Randy Galloway and Gerry Fraley are paid to express our opinions. We try to make them enlightened, responsible ones. And we don't expect everyone to agree with us every day.
There are checks and balances in what we do. If I say that signs are pointing to Kenny Rogers being traded and it's my opinion, readers are free to either trust my opinion or to think I'm crazy. If I say, though, that "sources" said that Kenny WILL be traded soon, our editors are going to ask who the sources are. The sources had better be high-placed and in a position to have direct knowledge of the information that they told us. Sometimes, the editors aren't so much interested in the specific name of the source. Rather, they trust that the writer has a credible source. If the writer keeps quoting "sources" and is wrong, the writer won't be writing much longer.
We don't work for a blog. (Ed. Note -- Ouch) We don't throw manure on the wall and hope that some of it sticks. We're professionals. We don't violate the trust that the newspaper has placed in us.
The statement one of you made about "every single media member" disliking Hart and Showalter because they won't kiss our posteriors is ludicrous. You have no idea what kind of relationship each of us has with the Rangers GM and manager. You need to make your own judgment based upon what we write. We don't print "conjecture" in the newspaper and try to pass it off as fact. "Hearsay" isn't considered a source, either.
I think Gil's comments are worth reading, because I think sometimes folks have a tendency to dismiss anything certain writers say as fabrications, or saying that "a club official" could be a peanut vendor.