Anonymous Sources: More or less and why and where?


  • Hoyt Purvis The University of Arkansas



Anonymous sources have been important factors in some of the major news stories of our time. But does this reliance on unnamed sources to too far? The use and possible abuse of anonymous sources is a matter of continuing controversy in the media and can have a direct bearing on the credibility of the media. Questions related to the use of such sources are examined in a study of the use of anonymous sources in 14 daily editions of three daily newspapers, focusing on the quantity of articles using anonymous sources, their subject matter, location, and rationale for using unnamed sources. This is done within the context of the ongoing controversy about the reliance on such sources in major news organizations. Results of this study are reported and analyzed and provide some clear indications about the extent and nature of the use of anonymous sources, and point to a possible over-dependence and problematic trend.


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