Going Nameless  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   August/September 2003

Going Nameless   

By Jill Rosen
Jill Rosen is AJR's assistant managing editor     

Related reading:
   » Important if True
   » Who Said That?
   » One Paper's Policy

1. How they boil it down.
San Francisco Chronicle: The use of confidential sources should be the exception rather than the routine.
The Washington Post is pledged to disclose the source of all information when at all possible.
Tampa Tribune: It's sometimes necessary, but seldom a good idea, to quote an unnamed source.
San Antonio Express-News pledges to make every effort to tell our readers the source of all information we publish.
Norfolk's Virginian-Pilot: Anonymous sources should be rare and reasoned.

2. Requires or recommends editor/reporter discussions before printing a quote from an unnamed source.
Arizona Republic
San Jose Mercury News
Wilmington, Delaware's News-Journal
Champaign, Illinois' News-Gazette
Kansas City Star
Nebraska's Lincoln Journal Star
Salem, Oregon's Statesman Journal
Dallas Morning News
San Antonio Express-News
Richmond Times-Dispatch

3. Includes an anonymity "test," a set of questions that must be answered before the paper uses an anonymous quote.
Orlando Sentinel
San Francisco Chronicle
Bergen County, New Jersey's Record
Salem, Oregon's Statesman Journal
Norfolk's Virginian-Pilot
Virginia's Roanoke Times

4. Specifically alludes to the concept of "credibility."
Orlando Sentinel
San Francisco Chronicle
Newport News, Virginia's Daily Press ("A newspaper risks its credibility each time it bases a news report on the word of unnamed sources.")
Kansas City Star
Nebraska's Lincoln Journal Star
Bergen County, New Jersey's Record
Virginia's Roanoke Times
Tampa Tribune ("When we do so, we in effect tell readers: 'Trust us.' The more we ask for trust, the less we seem to deserve it.")

Adapted from an American Society of Newspaper Editors compendium of news organizations' policies on anonymous sources

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