ERIC Number: ED257120
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1985-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
The Unknown Expert: Anonymous Attribution on Network Television Newscasts.
Wulfemeyer, K. Tim; McFadden, Lori L.
Because the quoting of anonymous sources in journalism has received a great deal of attention recently, a study was conducted to focus attention on the broadcast media by examining the quoting of anonymous sources on network television newscasts. Four research questions were formulated: (1) What percentage of television news stories contain anonymous attribution? (2) How frequently are unnamed sources quoted? (3) What types of stories contain the most anonymous attribution? and (4) How are unnamed sources described? In the fall of 1982, two weeks of network television newscasts were selected randomly and videotaped. The resultant 27 newscasts and coded stories were analyzed according to a number of variables, including subject matter, type, and presence of anonymous contribution. About 55% of the 416 stories contained at least one quote that was attributed to an unnamed source. About 59% of the CBS stories, 57% of the NBC stories, and 47% of the ABC stories contained anonymous attribution. Subject matter of stories did not seem to affect the use of unnamed sources very much, and "neutral" anonymous sources were most often quoted. In light of these findings, network news organizations might consider restricting their granting of confidentiality to sources and letting viewers know more about how the information in news stories is confirmed. (DF)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A