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Anonymous Sources

by on November 7, 2014

We’ve seen it done a dozen times before. Anonymous sources have been the use in journalism for the longest time, however questioning its’ ethical use is another thing. The Watergate Scandal was a big event that really publicized and popularized the use of anonymous sources. The anonymous source they used was named “Deep Throat” who served as their ally for information. Deep Throat is one of the most influential anonymous sources, and when his identity was questioned and finally revealed, it sparked the anonymous sources debacle.

Through stories such as Janet Cook or Stephen Glass that we have talked about during class, we have learned that sources can make or break your story. In these two cases, their “sources” were not anonymous, however they were never questioned until it was found they were fake along with the rest of the story.

In the case of anonymity, many journalists find themselves in a difficult situation that creates a predicament between the news. The use of anonymous sources has an influence on many things. By using them, the newspaper’s credibility is on the line, the editors who allow it to be published is on the line, and also the reporter who uses them has to take full responsibility for the accuracy and the authenticity of his or her source.

When discussing anonymous sources, we have to look at the positive and negative aspects that come with the use of them. The role of anonymous sources raises issues of ethical, journalistic and even legal concerns and disputes that should be taken into account. We have to look at questions such as when are anonymous sources justified? Is it a situational thing? Is it relevant or crucial in the story? What does it bring to the table? How does this affect the story, yourself, the paper or outside parties? Will the source be harmed by publication of their name and will they have dangerous repercussions? What do you guys think of the use of anonymous sources?


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