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'Anonymous Sources' Aren't the Enemy of Good Journalism

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  • Tip Bones

On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted against the use of "anonymous sources" in media, "having to do with trade or any other subject." His concern is that media outlets can manufacture a whole source to support their agendas, and produce "fake news."

Well, Mr. Trump isn't wrong about the possibility. A dishonest journalist truly could use a completely made-up source to disguise their lack of credible citation. But to say that we shouldn't believe ANY outlet that uses an anonymous source? That just isn't reality.

The fact is, there are a number of reasons that a source would want to remain anonymous. Sources frequently have motivations to protect their jobs, families, investments, property, and so on. Occasionally, information that they provide puts them or what they hold dear at risk. It doesn't have to be about big trade secrets, either! A source may have information about a company policy where they work, but their contract forbids them from talking to the media.

I'll always encourage using named and verifiable sources over anonymous ones. That's just good reporting! But we live in a world where sometimes the best information doesn't come from a source you can credit, and that doesn't mean that what they say isn't important.

Anonymous sources aren't the enemy of good journalism. Dishonesty is.

Photo: Tweet from Donald Trump