The New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan has written a very thoughtful column about the relationship of reporters and their sources. Excerpt:
"In some ways, this is the eternal problem of the beat reporter (or specialized writer or critic): When you cover a subject for many years, familiarity can turn into friendship. Cultivating a source over drinks may be one thing; accepting an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner quite another.
"Is the latter a good idea? I don’t think so. After all, “outsider” status has helped foster some of the most memorable journalism. (Consider The Washington Post’s Watergate reporting by the young metro-desk reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, or the late Michael Hastings’s takedown of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.) And, at the opposite end of the spectrum, The Los Angeles Times recently fired a well-regarded investigative reporter after he disclosed an affair with a source."