Saturday, April 4, 2009

Those pesky anonymous sources

A selection of thoughtful letters to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, on the subject of reporters using anonymous sources.

Other Voices: No Name? No Quote. No Spin.

What do you think? Talk amongst yourselves... (blog it, please)


  1. I agree with Beverly Walker on her statement that anonymous sources should be where reporting starts, not stops. In some cases there are not many options are there? Your source's trust is extremely important. Journalists are doing a job, but they have to put themselves in their source's situations, they don't want to burn any bridges in their life but think information needs to be out there.

  2. It is very interesting that this topic came up because the Herald Journal recently published a story about the athletic fee increase, before it passed. (I don't remember the story, but it was published around the middle of March.) They interviewed an ambassador from the school and this person refused to give their name. My husband is also an ambassador and he was mad when he saw that the source refused to take credit for their comments.
    As I was reading this article I felt the same way Walker felt, putting the name in to story always makes it a stronger piece. Plus, like Mike Feinsilber said, it creates trust between the reporter and the reader.
    After I read the article by the Hearld Journal, I wanted to know who that person was and my opinion of the piece fell drastically. I felt the piece would have been stronger without the anonymous source being quoted or even mentioned at all. There are some cases where keeping sources anonymous could be necessary, but in my opinion just find another way around it. Don't lose the readers trust that you work so hard as a reporter to gain.