Anonymous Sources

The editor of Newsweek gave an interview to the nightly news speaking on the use of anonymous sources by the media. Recently, Newsweek had to retract a story that it ran, which accused U.S. interrogators of desecration the Qur’an at Guantanamo Bat in order to get prisoners to offer up information. Reporters said that the information came from “a knowledgeable U.S. government source,” but did not state who this knowledgeable source was. As it turns out, this information was found to be incorrect after an investigation ran by the government. I am aware that reporters are often approached with information that is crucial to the public and should be released. However, as a writer for a political publication, an imperative action to preserving the integrity of the media is to gain every piece of information possible on a topic, especially where anonymous sources are concerned.

This is eerily reminiscent of the scandal surrounding CBS and anchor Dan Rather and the military record of President George Bush. Again, the media had the responsibility to check and check again the credibility of a source in order to ensure that the public is receiving the correct information; information that the public uses to make decisions on political matters. In both cases the media failed to do this and in the course of their reporting, wronged the public. However, the public is not the only party wronged in this scandal. The media are wronging themselves, convincing the public that they are not capable of reporting accurate information. Again, (hopefully) as a future member of the medial world, this is a scary thought to grasp. The news media are the main source of information to the public concerning public affairs, and often times, they are not willing to research these topics beyond what is reported in print and broadcast.

Information, whether from an unknown source or one with the utmost credibility, must be checked through interviews, documents, any means possible. If this is not done, the authority of the media is in jeopardy, along with the ability of the public to make informed decisions based on the inaccurate information that they are given. It is important for the members of the media world to bear this in mind when reporting to the public.

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