Truth is a fickle thing. Truth can get you into trouble. Therefore, when people are asked to be a witness, most of them shrug and leave. When a journalist follows a story, there are times he or she looks for an inside source, but providing a journalist with this insight might get people in trouble. This is why there are many countries who allow journalists to cite anonymous sources. Turkey is one of them.
The dangers are not, however, limited to what I mentioned above. Sometimes people can place themselves or their families in danger if a story is of a criminal nature. Many examples can be given as to why citing anonymous sources is a necessary part of journalism. However, the ability to keep sources anonymous can be used for more dubious purposes.
There are journalists who share their personal opinions by saying that they heard them from inside sources. But since the source wished to remain anonymous, we have to take the journalist's word for it. Or even worse, a journalist with an axe to grind can write slander and blame it all on an anonymous source when faced with an accusation. These bad apples abuse the system and, in turn, it damages the credibility of other news articles and journalists who cite anonymous sources out of actual needs by rendering all of them untrustworthy in the eyes of the readers.
Many guidelines have been set in order to determine when it is okay to hide the identity of a source and I will add a few more.
Before promising a source anonymity, first be sure of what you are getting into. You could be becoming a tool to settle a grudge. Therefore, be clear and precise on what you are getting and what you are promising. For example, when a criminal is caught, sometimes the police offer him some time off from prison, or even immunity from prosecution, in exchange for material evidence or knowledge to get the bigger fish. We have all watched such scenes in television series or Hollywood movies. Beside the criminal part, the rest can apply here. We have to make sure of the reliability of the source by asking for documents or evidence that supports the statement.
We have to ask ourselves what the news value is of a particular story. Do we have to print it because of public concerns? Can its importance overshadow the fact that it came from an anonymous source? We have to make a distinction though. An anonymous source can still provide material evidence and documents and a journalist can cite those as a source. This is quite different from reporting hearsay. If it is hearsay and the answer to the questions above are negative, is it worth damaging the credibility of ourselves or our newspaper?
How much of the news report is suspect if the source is kept anonymous. If the answer is, "a lot of it," perhaps it is best not to print the story altogether.
We might shun hiding the identity of sources unless it is absolutely necessary, but when it comes to anonymous sources there is one cardinal sin no journalist should ever commit. Do not identify your source in the news article after you promise them anonymity in order to obtain information.
to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the
used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan
ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen