Unnamed Sources Policy

Under Behind Talkies policies and guidelines, material from anonymous sources may be used only if:

  1. The material is information, and not opinion or speculation, and is vital to the news report.
  2. The information is not available except under the conditions of anonymity imposed by the source.
  3. The source is reliable, and in a position to have accurate information.

Behind Talkies strictly follows two statements contained in The SPJ Code of Ethics on anonymous sources:

  • Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.A journalist’s most important professional possession is credibility. If news consumers don’t have faith that the stories they are reading or watching are accurate and fair, or if they suspect information attributed to an anonymous source has been fabricated, then the journalists effectively lose all of their credibility. To protect their credibility and the credibility of their stories, Blasters must use every possible avenue to confirm and attribute information before relying on unnamed sources. If the only way to publish a story is to use anonymous sources, the writer owes it to the readers to identify the source as clearly as possible without exposing the identity of the individual who has been granted anonymity.
  • Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.Blasters can not take information from anonymous sources without the approval of a Behind Talkies central employee. We use information from anonymous sources to tell important stories that would otherwise go unreported.

The decision to use an anonymous source is not a decision made solely by the Blaster. To use an anonymous source, the Blaster must have the written consent of a Behind Talkies editorial team member.

A Behind Talkies editorial team member will grant consensus if the source is considered to be credible and reliable, and if there is substantial journalistic justification for using the source’s information without attribution. This requires deciding whether it is editorially justifiable to let the source speak anonymously, and having confidence that the source is in fact the same one mentioned in the content and is justified as reliable to speak on the information in question. Behind Talkies should never be in the position of having to verify these factors after a story has been broadcasted or published.