You Hide In Order to Attack

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"The public sees the growing use of unidentified sources as a basic fairness issue. The public is particularly upset when it thinks the press is providing cover so someone can make an anonymous personal attack on another individual" (Haiman 21).

After reading the next section of Haiman, I found the quote above to be extremely important to the Newswriting world. I think that it is essential for the news reporter to be careful when citing someone if they say they do not want to be. This would be considered an unidentified source, but is it always good?

I think that unidentified sources are good for local stories, but how does it work when it comes to political and national stories. Here is an example case: What if the Vice President said a statement that the paper named as being an unidentified source. What if that source was used to make the opposing political party look bad? No one would have known that the V.P said that quote because it was unidentified, but the opposing team or political party would probably know.

I think that when it comes to politics, then the public knows who says what because of how widespread the topics are and how much coverage they receive. Is the paper using unidentified sources as a means of attacking another person of even another news paper company?

So, do you think that the paper uses unidentified sources in order to make the public read their papers? Is it a form of bias that people do not understand and simply enjoy reading about? Finally, could the unidentified sources be a way of attacking a specific audience - hint: news coverage?

Click here for the course web page devoted to Haiman.

3 Comments

Well...according to Haiman, it sounds like the paper would not use unidentified sources to attract readers because a large percent of readers (I don't remember what the exact number is) does not appreciate the use of anonymous quotes. The public is like a curious child, always wanting to see what is behind that curtain or door. The anonymous quote makes you guess who said it. If the source is anonymous, how does the reader know how credible the information is unless the paper tags the quote with "A top financial expert for the Department of Treasury"? Even then, the people will still want to know who that person is even though the chances of that name meaning anything to that individual are slim.

Anonymous sources can definately be a way of attacking another source. What if the reporter wanted to say something but couldn't get a source to say it? Technically, (s)he could just insert the little nugget of information and say that an anonymous source said it. I can definately see why we need to be cautious when useing anonymous quotes. To me, they seem like a last resort.

Angela, I agree with you completely. I don't think there's much question that the paper wouldn't use anonymous quotes to attract readers. Sure,there was that section where a reporter said he used anonymous quotes because they were "sexy" (I swear), but mostly, I think it just annoys the public to have someone hide behind the paper to share a thought.

I guess there are probably some newspapers or at least news reporters who work that way, but I don't think that would necessarily be a standard thing. Quotes from named sources tend to come across as more credible than those from unnamed sources. Who knows, though?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on October 25, 2009 4:04 PM.

Reflection #10: The Daily Words: Fact or Lie was the previous entry in this blog.

Reflection #11: The Power of Having No Name is the next entry in this blog.

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