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New York Times' Margaret Sullivan Draws Praise For 'AnonyWatch'

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NEW YORK - DECEMBER 07: The New York Times' masthead is displayed in front of the midtown headquarters on December 7, 2009 in New York City. Today is the deadline for Times staffers to accept a buyout package in an effort to eliminate 100 newsroom employees this year in the struggling economy. The newspaper will likely fall short of the 100 buyouts and will need to layoff staffers to cut costs. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) | Getty

Margaret Sullivan is at it again.

The public editor of the New York Times criticized the newspaper on Tuesday over the use of anonymous quotes. In a new feature called "AnonyWatch," Sullivan scrutinized "some of the more regrettable examples of anonymous quotations in The Times."

In response to a column that cites a "Democratic insider" insulting Andrew Cuomo, she wrote, "Whoa! How does that square with The Times’s clear written rule not to smear people anonymously?" She also asked managing editor Dean Baquet to comment on the two examples of anonymous quotes she cited. He told her that the Times shouldn't have used those quotes.

The feature earned Sullivan words of praise on Tuesday, with Glenn Greenwald calling her "best public editor ever." Others said:

Sullivan has written about anonymous quotes — which Times reporter Eric Schmitt once told her was the "no. 1 complaint" from readers — before. Last year, for example, she responded to readers' concerns about anonymous sources on possible weapons in Syria, and discussed what she felt was a "disconnect" between readers and journalists on when anonymous quotes are useful and when they are not.

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