On my journey, I sometimes choose to disguise the identity of my sources. While both sides of the debate present persuasive arguments, in some of my articles I opt for anonymity of my sources. Let me walk you through the arguments I have come across, and explain why I choose anonymity in some instances.
A bedrock of journalism
Stating one’s sources is a bedrock of journalism. Openly mentioning the name and affiliation of a source adds to the credibility of a piece of writing. For one, because it enables readers to independently verify the existence of a source as well as a source’s claims. Secondly, a source’s resume and readers’ ability to verify past achievements can underpin or undermine a source’s authority to speak. The message of an economics professor has greater validity than that of a first-year student in the same field. The authority of a journalist’s sources, in turn, contributes to their conclusion about the topic concerned.
Deep-diving into the European food supply chain
In my case, openly stating my sources at all times would cut my endeavors short. As I want to deep-dive into the European food supply chain, I will uncover a sector that, in addition to a sector, is also a community. Players in this sector maintain close ties with each other and know each other. If an interviewee wants to point out mischief and does this openly, their message might harm another player’s reputation or even that of their clients. The source in question might face repercussions from clients for speaking up, which would make their position extremely vulnerable if the business has only a small number of clients. To prevent relevant sources from choosing silence over bankruptcy, I want to offer them the possibility to speak in anonymity.
Corroborated by independent sources
Having said this, on this platform I publicly verify the validity of the input provided by an anonymous source. The contribution of an anonymous source gains authority if it is corroborated by different, independent sources. As such, the input of an anonymous source can still prove valuable if it points my search in a certain direction – a direction that is then confirmed by other, independent sources.
By definition, my thoughts on this subject are partial. Feel free to participate in the process and share your thoughts by commenting below!