"The best quotes are those where the speaker is remembered." -Anonymous

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"But Washington reporters use anonymous sources according to an unwritten but intricate

and broadly understood set of rules that usually -- if not always -- provides a structure

and discipline to the system. It's not an immaculate system, but at least all of the players

understand it. That system and its nuances, however, usually are not well understood

or practiced at regional and smaller newspapers." -(Haiman, 18)

First, let me say, that I really enjoy this book.  It's practical, answers questions that are bound to come up if one writes for any amount of time, and it explains *why* certain principles have been developed.  This is actually something I struggled with in my last article, and am still struggling with as I revise.  My last article was about some misconceptions people had about a certain cultural practice.  Two people really verbalized what everyone else was dancing around in their quotes, but I think these people also knew that they were not fully informed on the subject, and neither wanted to be named in the piece.  This was before I had read these chapters, and I didn't see the harm in having an anonymous source. 

However, as Haiman explains, if someone is quoted insulting another person, the insulted party has a right to know who is making such claims.  Also, if the story rests on an anynonmous quote, it tends to lose its sense of reliability.  An anynomous quote simply doesn't carry the same weight as a quote given by someone in the community, or, even better, a nationally recognized name.  These three guidelines that Haiman lists on page 19 may not be infallible, but they certainly leave journalists with more to go with than before.  Any time there is one set of rules that many can look to, there are fewer excuses for straying from the path.

Greta talks about some ways to make sure, when you get a quote *and* a name, you get the quote right.  You don't want people afraid to give you quotes, do you?




Aja Hannah said:

I also find this book helpful/informative. Much more so than some other books I have read. I understand how it seems that the article loses weight when there's an anonymous quote. That's why I wish people just trusted other people and that people were good. This way everyone would know the quote isn't made up and some authority said it. That authority just doesn't want to get in trouble or something.

Derek Tickle said:

I blogged about the same topic as you and the anonymous sources/quotes. I really like how you mentioned that if a story bases its self on an anynomus quote, then it will lose some of its reliability. I think that this is very true because the audience would not know where the information came from. I also agree with you that some people do not want to be quoted on the subject or topic because they are not that educated on it, but want to provide what they know. Good blog and insight!

Derek Tickle said:

I thought that your blog entry was so insightful that I wrote The Power of Having No Name

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