Kinda like Parents: You tell them what they want to hear


"We figured that if we refused to let unnamed people lie in the news columns, there would be a lot less lying in print."

So being young and naive, I just realized that a sneaky attempt to get your "3 sources" would be to make up an imaginary friend as that source, posting them as anonymous. That way, you don't get in trouble for using someone else's name or making up an unknown character's identity. This way, the source doesn't have an identity. Clever, is what I see it as, however, authorities seem to have found their way to bust manipulative people. That is one use of an anonymous source.

Another use of an anonymous source would be to get the truth. Let's be realisitc, when talking to the press, most people are going to tell the reporters the fluff and pretty much what they want to hear to not make them look bad since their name is attached.
It is kind of like when you fill out a form about a teacher or your RA. You're very honest because your name is not attached. How are they going to know you were the one that gave them all 5's on the scale or all 1's?

So when people submit information anonymously, it is usually their normal feelings. You may not know who the person is, which seems quite fishy and curiousity strikes, but at least you have the truth.

So if a journalist does have both opinions of an issue but they are anonymous, the readers may get more out of it, since it is more of the truth and they are not afraid to hold back their feelings. I think anonymous quoting is stronger in truth, but it also make you wonder if it is the truth at all or if you've got that sneaky reporter that makes up sources to make a deadline.


Anonymous people in newspapers always made me wonder if it was really someone giving a quote, or if it was just the journalist putting in their own two cents and making it sound like someone else. Though it always seems like the truth and more emotion comes through those anonymous people, it really does make you wonder if it really is a good source or if its just the journalist. hmmmm...

If the reporter knows the name of the source, and clears it with the editor, there are certainly situations in which having an anonymous quote is valuable and even necessary -- if you were doing a story about corruption in a government agency, and secretaries and maintenance workers who witnessed shady dealings would have reason to fear for their job if they speak up.

But you're right -- there's no way for the public to gauge the credibility of an anonymous report, so that's why you have to be so careful.

You know, I've never given much thought to annonymous sources because, well, I don't have a big need for them with my Setonian articles... :) However, it is good to think about for future things- we can't just make something up in order to create a more interesting stories. That goes against the Journalism Code of Ethics (I had to do a Senior Sem project on it, so I know that thing back and forth).

I agree that people are more truthful when their identities are hidden. Most people can't even be totally honest with their friends let alone say something controversial in a national newspaper. Unfortunately, it's true that a story anonymously quoting both sides of an opinion will be a better story, but may look thrown together. How many people do your have to interview before you can find one who will allow you to quote them? It's like the title to your blogg-How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll tootsie pop. I think that's your blogg.

Anonymity breeds brutal honesty. Didn't we read something like that in IANS? It wasn't that exactly but you make a good point when talking about how people are more likely to give their honest opinion on something that doesn't have their name attached. Then again, they could just be like me, someone who feels bad about giving someone a bad grade and will mark all 5's on the paper, despite the fact that my name is not on the paper. See, that's the problem with anonymous sources - people can tell you anything and they woun't be held accountable since their name isn't in print! At least people might be embarrased or shamed to see their name publicized right beside their comments!

For my last artilce, I could not find 3 sources, and ended up using only two. I know Dr Jerz said a minimum if three, but I felt it better to have two good sources than add an imagonary one.

I have had people that, although they did not say anything that could get them introubles during the interview, felt uncomfortable having their name appear in my article. So, what I did was I said "some students have said that...." or "others feel that..." and paraphrased their quotations.

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This page contains a single entry by published on November 13, 2007 3:35 PM.

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