Much is being made of the NYT's "apology" today for blowing it on WMD coverage (see Romenesko). But all I see is a media, including the Times, that doesn't really want to deal with the root cause of the problem.
Sure, you can argue that the Times got it wrong on many fronts related to WMD. Both the left and the right, pro-war and anti-war, can put its own spin on how WMD was covered in the run up to the war by the NYT and other major media. But if you want to be honest, and you care about ethical journalism, the issue isn't whether the Times and others displayed sufficient skepticism, because in the end, a news reporter is only as good as his sources (or source documents). In the run up to the war, there is only so much a reporter can uncover. In the end, it boils down to either relying on government sources and various "experts," or going and digging through the Iraqi sands yourself. And since any investigative reporter who would actually tried to find WMD (or lack of) in Iraq probably would have found out the truth about Abu Ghraib much faster than he would have liked, you're only left with human intelligence — second hand information given to you by officials in various world governments. And in the end, that means the fault isn't with the information, but how the information is gathered, vetted and disseminated. It is all about sources, how they're handled and how they're trusted.
And no ethical, honest reporter trusts a source who isn't willing to put his name to a quote, except under extreme and unique circumstances. Those circumstances rarely applied to any reporting prior to the war (possibly, never applied).
Go through the Times' stories. There are scant few facts, real or imagined, that are attached to named sources. All you get are "administration officials," and the like.
Here's the problem: When you don't hold sources accountable by printing their names, you are giving them a blank check to spin, to lie, to disinform, and to promote personal, political or institutional agendas. Where there is no accountability for information, there is no incentive to speak the truth, to be sure you're right, to be personally responsible for what you say.