The Kansas City Star’s readers’ representative Derek Donovan commented on news tips from anonymous sources in an Oct. 2 column.
Donovan explained that the newspaper often receives tips from sources who wish to remain anonymous, but it often provides problems for the newsroom in terms of learning more about the tip. Donovan used his column as an opportunity to remind readers of the Star’s ethics policy.
That policy calls for journalists to have the OK from a superior before granting anonymity and to “iron out the terms of the contract” of anonymity with sources before agreeing. Further, the Star’s policy advises “confidentiality only should be granted to protect someone who is relatively powerless or who might be harmed should his or her identity be revealed. In addition, the story should be of overriding public importance. In all cases, the reason for granting anonymity should be made clear in the story.”