Anonymous sources: Credible or questionable?
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh was strongly criticized for citing unnamed sources in a recent New Yorker article on U.S.-Iran relations. Hersh has repeatedly quoted anonymous sources in the past, most notably to expose both the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq.
The use of anonymous sources has long been controversial. Critics say they hurt the media's credibility. Defenders say without them important stories would never be told.
However, the use of such sources in the U.S. media has significantly declined since The New York Times was embarrassed by journalist Jayson Blair's use of fake unnamed sources to fabricate stories in 2003. The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research group, found use of anonymous sources in major U.S. newspapers dropped from 29 percent of all articles in 2003 to just 7 percent in 2004.
What do you think about anonymous sources? How should a journalist gauge when to use one? What are the guidelines for using unnamed sources in your organization?
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