"I Wish to Remain Anonymous"
From Haiman’s Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists:
“The public is particularly upset when it thinks the press is providing cover so someone can make an anonymous personal attack on another individual” (21).
I was wondering why one of the Associated Press’s rules is “The material [quoted in a story] must be information and not opinion, and not speculation, and it must be essential to the story” (21). I was thinking what if a person wanted to say something against someone who could make his life heck if that person wanted to? Obviously, that person would not want to put his neck on the line for your story and it would be wrong for you to publish it. But also, what if that person is lying? He could use your newspaper to try to defame a person secretly. If you suspect that person’s opinion to be true and newsworthy, then follow it up. Try to get someone to go on record with that opinion or go straight to the source like Haiman’s example about Maureen Reagan being her father’s campaign manager. An anonymous source tipped the reporter off that this might be true and the reporter ended up being able to confirm the information when (s)he was lucky enough to run into Maureen Reagan herself (20).
So the basic lesson that I learned from this is if I ever get a source that wishes to remain anonymous yet the information that person gives me is newsworthy, I can either try to persuade that person to let me attach their name to that quote or use the tip as a stepping stone to a better source. How hard could that be? Ha ha.