ERIC Number: ED217452
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Anonymous Sources and Related Ethical Concerns in Journalism: Policies and Practices of Daily Newspapers.
Wulfemeyer, K. Tim
A survey of editors of (1) the 100 largest newspapers in the United States, and (2) 50 newspapers in state capitols was conducted to examine their policies concerning the use of 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. Analysis of the responses indicated that about 32% of the newspapers had formal, written policies governing the use of anonymous sources, and about 69% had informal, oral policies concerning such use. Larger papers tended to have formal policies, while small and medium-sized dailies tended to have informal policies. The most common aspect of these policies was that editors had to know the identities of anonymous sources. Other major aspects included using anonymous sources only as a last resort, verifying anonymous information through other sources, and describing unnamed sources as fully as possible to allow readers to judge their credibility. Independent newspapers tended to have the statement "granting confidentiality to protect sources" in their policies more often than did group-owned newspapers. The "Washington Post" incident had affected the policies of most of the newspapers. About 46% indicated that to ensure accuracy they were more carefully scrutinizing stories that contained information obtained from anonymous sources. (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).