Don Fry, of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Florida, distributed this list of questions that reporters should ask themselves when making decisions about use of anonymous sources. They brought hot debate from journalists attending a conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors.
1. What is the situation, and what is the problem?
2. Is this story important enough to justify using an anonymous source?
3. Is this anonymous material confirmed by a reliable second source?
4. Can I explain in the story the reason for using anonymous sources?
5. What is the journalistic purpose of reporting this information without revealing the source?
6. Does the editor or producer know enough about the source to justify a verbal contract between the source and the newspaper or TV station?
7. Would more reporting get this material from other sources?
8. If the story quotes an anonymous source, will it still be accurate, complete, fair and balanced?
9. How far will I go to protect the source¹s identity? Am I willing to go to jail or get fired?
10. Would the story be improved if I cut out the anonymous material?