The Times of South Africa’s Joe Latakgomo weighed in on anonymous sources and whether they “tip-off versus rip-off” in a Nov. 6 opinion article. Latakgomo founded the newspaper the Sowetan and has worked in various South African newspapers.
He called for more careful use of anonymous sources and cited (South African media company) Avusa Media’s policy on the use of anonymous sources.
The policy advises its journalists to have “at least two independent on-the-record sources with personal knowledge of the facts, or three off-the-record sources with personal knowledge of the facts,”
He also argued that “in most cases, the use of anonymity is simply a crutch for lazy journalism.” He balanced the good anonymous sources can do in whistle blowing, but questioned their use in terms of a recent sex assault accusation against Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula. According to Latakgomo, one newspaper granted a woman who claimed to have had a “sexual encounter” with Mbalula anonymity but many other news outlets named her, so the anonymity was pointless.