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1:06 AM

I'll be the first to admit: all knowledge that I have heretofore gained of anonymous sources comes from Journalism movies, hyperbolic stories about journalists who got in trouble with anonymous sources, and Watergate.

On the whole, anonymous sourcing seems like lazy journalism. Using a "high ranking government official" en lieu of a name may be acceptable, but you will lose credibility as the number of anonymous sources increases. If your story is full of people who will not be attributed, your audience will be confused and skeptical.

More importantly, anonymous sourcing is dangerous.

It's a long road from anonymous sourcing to being sued for libel. If you're as good as your word, you could go to jail. If you're not - then you're a bad journalist. It's a treacherous path to omit names & face the consequences. However, there may also be a source like Deep Throat out there ready to hand you the next Watergate.

In my Media Writing class, Professor Walz discussed how anonymous sources could be used as a stepping stone to finding more information that is on the record. That was a side to sourcing that I had not heard before, and this was a way that using an anonymous source could GET you a quote on the record - that way you don't risk your integrity or report lazily.

A reporter's intuition can often be the best resource for handling stories. There is no yes or no answer to this question, you've just got to feel it on a case by case basis.

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