Anonymity In News


Nathaniel Burkhart, Copy Editor

If you were to read a popular story about something that you find interesting, would you automatically believe it? What if you can’t trust the source? This is the problem behind anonymity. If you don’t know the source, you can’t really trust it.


However, sometimes important information can come from these anonymous sources. Information that can be dangerous for them to share publicly. Anonymity can be a defense against criticism and targeting; Mark Felt, for example. Felt was a key informant in the Watergate scandal, and shared some information that could have been dangerous to him if he had not shared it anonymously.


He shared so much information, in fact, that he was given the nickname Deep Throat. Similarly, story was written recently based on the words of an anonymous source in the Trump administration. A few days after excerpts from the book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” came out, an anonymous writer sent an op-ed to the New York Times. This op-ed outlines the resistance in the Trump Administration, saying that it is not the same as the resistance from the left.


A CNN article (White House aides narrow search for anonymous op-ed writer to a few people, source says) says that “the resistance inside the government wants ‘the administration to succeed … But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of the republic.’ ”


When I asked students and teachers about it, they all seemed to agree that, under certain circumstances, anonymous sources can and should be used. One student said that anonymity is essential to protect important sources from certain dangers. Another said that anonymous sources can be important in certain settings, but not all.


When asked if there was any good reason for a source to claim anonymity, Porter Weigant said, “If it supports [their safety], I don’t see why not.”. Mark McKinney, the school’s Veteran Legacies teacher, seemed to agree with them. He said that anonymous sources can be the key to a big breakthrough in a controversial story.


I also got an interview with Cindy Schubert, the principal, and she seemed to echo what everyone else said; Anonymous sources are essential for some stories, but only if certain circumstances are met.