A Letter to the Editor recently took ZBM to task for using anonymous sources to say the Government was not telling the truth. It said there should be an end to the use of anonymous sources.
In an ideal world, the author is correct, the use of anonymous sources should end. However, here in Bermuda and elsewhere, there is no ideal world.
Newspapers should have a clear-cut policy on the use of anonymous sources.
For instance the information being given should be verified via other sources, the source of the information should be a trusted person who has a platform from which to speak and the journalist will hopefully have used their information before – when it proved to be correct.
Usually, the Editor or Deputy Editor will also be told who the source is, so there is another level of scrutiny before publication.
And, there should be every opportunity for the other person to comment.
Coming back to an ideal world ….. if there was a working framework for PATI, if there was much greater transparency around the institutions on this Island and if there was enhanced whistleblower legislation there may not be the need for anonymity.
Often anonymity is also granted because of the fear of recriminations.
Often anonymity is a requirement when some investigative journalism is being pursued. Think Deep Throat and Watergate.
I am sure there are some readers who will question my stance bearing in mind I am not in favour of anonymous comments or even Letters to the Editor.
It is much more likely in when someone contacts a newspaper about an issue for use in a story it is very controversial, it could put their jobs on the line, there is an element of public duty, a sense to put the record straight, expose….
All very different from a letter or a comment on a story, which are often vicious personal attacks of no public interest whatsoever.
The letter writer needs to understand about journalism more thoroughly. He/she needs to understand that the level of transparency in Bermuda is a joke and he/she needs to put themselves in the shoes of those living with recriminations because they have felt a public duty to say it as it is.
- 5 Journos, 5 Views of Unnamed Sources (mediabistro.com)