Here is a perfect example from Pam Benson over at CNN. In the story that you can find at that link, she reports that the White House has authorized an expansion of the CIA Predator Drone program. Benson sources the information to an anonymous "U.S. Official" and then states:
The U.S. official took exception to reports that hundreds of civilians have been killed in the Predator attacks.
The official said the strikes are "extremely precise" against terrorist targets and that only a "small fraction" of those killed have been civilians.
Last May, CIA director Leon Panetta would not discuss the specifics of the air strikes, but he did say they were "very effective" and resulted in few civilian deaths.
The quote above is how the story ends. What public good is served to the reader of this story by simply repeating what an anonymous "U.S. Official" says? Are these statements true or is this Official just trumpeting this government program because it is part of his/her job? We will never know because the source remains anonymous (it is never mentioned why) and Benson just acts as a stenographer and writes down what she was told. This type of story is a prime example of how the corporate media often gets it wrong.
A better, more critical story, would have also mentioned some more details about the controversial use of these predator drones. Perhaps it would have been relevant to mention the report that came out of the Pakistani paper The News last April that found that 687 Pakistani civilians have been killed in these drone strikes since 2006.
This Foreign Policy study counters the reports in the Pakistani paper yet still finds that about one-third of those killed in drone strikes are likely civilians.
I would think that this information would be relevant to an article about the White House expanding this drone program and to shed greater truth on the topic.
Instead, what we get from CNN's Pam Benson is a quick story that cites one anonymous "U.S. Official" who (while offering no evidence) claims that these reports are not accurate. Perfect if your idea journalism is simply writing down what Government officials tell you without looking into the validity of their claims.