ERIC Number: ED217426
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
The Use of Anonymous Sources and Related Ethical Concerns in Journalism: A Comparison of the Effects of the Janet Cooke/"Washington Post" Incident on the Policies and Practices of Large Newspapers and Television Stations.
Wulfemeyer, K. Tim
A survey of 65 newspaper editors and 64 television news directors was conducted to examine policies concerning unnamed sources and unattributed information in news stories, and to measure the effects of the incident in which a "Washington Post" reporter fabricated a major story and claimed that she had granted her sources confidentiality. The results indicated that 24% of the newspapers and television stations had formal written policies regarding the use of anonymous sources in stories, and 71% had only informal oral policies regarding the use of such sources. The major rules of the policies included (1) providing editors with source names; (2) using anonymous sources as a last resort; (3) verifying anonymous information through other sources; (4) describing such sources as much as possible to allow audiences to assess credibility; (5) granting confidentiality only to protect a source's life, liberty, property, or profession; and (6) using such sources only when they represented official government organizations. More newspapers than television stations demanded that editors know the identity of confidential sources, used them only as a last resort, and described them as fully as possible. Almost half of the respondents indicated that the "Washington Post" incident had no real effect on their news gathering and reporting activities. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: News Sources
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (65th, Athens, OH, July 25-28, 1982).