Many reporters feel it is their duty to inform the public about unscrupulous dealings by those in power, yet this can threaten their own security as they must place themselves in opposition to these same people with the inside information on other issues. In recent years, television outlets have started to accept the use of a single primary source for information as a means of saving time that is less well-known. Without expert sources, reporters may also seek corroborating data to help them prove or disprove the story they’ re Investigative journalism like this, with its strong adherence to facts and to named and authentic sources, is essential to the operation of a just society.
It is also a means of building trust with the audience. There are legitimate situations in which these sources cannot be identified. There are some general rules followed within the industry regarding protecting the identity of sources such as when the individual is in a sensitive government or business position or when revealing the individual’ s identity would jeopardize their safety. When used sparingly and a news organization with a proven track record of digging for the provable truth on an issue, the conscientious use of anonymous sources is forgiven when the significance of the information has relevance to the public’ s welfare.
There are several historic cases in which ‘ anonymous sources’ were the only means of acquiring access to essential information necessary to prove or disprove a given story. One of the most well-known historic use of the ‘ anonymous source’ happened in 1972. Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward launched an investigation suspicious activity that would eventually become known as Watergate.
They broke the case by agreeing to protect the identity of their anonymous primary source, an individual who came to be known only as Deep-Throat. Because they were already respected journalists who had already been working with a respected news media outlet, many of their readers were willing to believe that the reporters had the logical reason to trust the information provided by their source.
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