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View Diary: Media ignore threat to hold Fox News reporter in contempt for protecting source in Aurora shooting (131 comments)

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  •  That's Not Showing (1+ / 0-)
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    Since an anonymous source is indistinguishable from "the author made it up", quoting an anonymous source doesn't show anything is true. It's a shortcut, and daily journalism is mostly shortcuts.

    But like anonymous tips to the police that provide valuable leads for investigations (when it's not the police making it up or from illegally obtained evidence), an anonymous source in a story can provide the lead to objective evidence. Or to named sources. Or even to a purely logical analysis with no new evidence, once the useful point of view is discovered with anonymous help.

    So a real journalist could look beyond the anonymous source once tipped. If subpoenaed, they could prove by other means that what the anonymous source said was true, without revealing the source.

    However, if they can't prove it without the anonymous source, their credibility should suffer. If they've got a strong reputation for fact, and little to gain compared to losing it by lying about the anonymous source, that could convince. In reporting that is the main basis for access to an audience. In a court, those distinctions have physical consequences. If a prosecutor (or defender) could prove the quote was false, that could compel a journalist to reveal their source. And indeed there should be more than just a loss of credibility at stake, because modern journalism products show that is no inhibition at all in most cases that define our public knowledge.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:30:41 PM PDT

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