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People Familiar with the Investigations

Let's give the journalist the benefit of the doubt in this one. David Crawford could be facing a battery of Wall Street Journal lawyers as he wrote his article titled "Probe of Bribery at HP Heats Up" posted on The Wall Street Journal online today and reprinted in The Globe and Mail's Report on Business section.

Parsing the story quickly this morning, I realized I was reading the phrase "people familiar with the investigations" (twice) in different ways in nearly every paragraph. Sometimes these informants were "people familiar with the matter" (four times), other times "people close to the investigation" (twice), and "people familiar with the probe". 

By my count that is nine unattributed references. "German authorities", "German prosecutors", the "U.S. Department of Justice", "a spokeswoman for HP", "U.S. and Russian authorities", "spokesmen for the Justice Department and the SEC", and "Russian investigators" all also make their specifically unattributed appearance.

Not a single person seems to have been willing to be identified in the story and, in fact, no names are revealed at all.

And journalists berate bloggers for vagary, lack of specificity and using unverified facts.

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