Protecting identity

April 28, 2011 This week we faced another ethical problem here at LakeVoice. A necessary source in a story requested to have his last name removed to protect his identity. The use of unnamed and anonymous sources has caused much conflict in journalism ethics. The Poynter Institute points out “that rewards can outweigh the risk of reporting based on anonymous sources.” They go on to suggest that using an anonymous source can damage a publications reputation. They advise that a source must be reliable in order to be used, and that it must be relevant to the story.In the case of this story, the reporter had met and interviewed the source and knew the source by name. Some of the information the source gave the reporter was delicate, and if he was fully identified, could cause him legal harm.So what are we to do? Remove the source from the story completely, even though the source’s contribution adds an interesting angle to the story, or quote the source as anonymous and risk our credibility and reputation?The final decision was made by the editor; to keep the source in the story, but without their last name to protect his identity. This ensures the story has an angle that could be not obtained with a fully-named source, but we protect the identity of the source.

Go back

Information change

Open relations