Friday, June 16, 2017

Anonymous Sources

People say believe half of what you see
And none of what you hear
--Marvin Gaye

Last night, the Department of Justice issued a short release warning Americans about news stories built on information obtained from anonymous sources. The release begins:

"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials,' particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch or agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations."

Motivations for this release are unclear. However, we do know that the mainstream media have based their recent grapevine journalism campaign on anonymous sources. Anonymous sources cast an air of legitimacy to the publication of rumor, innuendo, and fiction as fact.

As the media has ratcheted up the anonymous source approach, awareness is growing among Americans about the risk of consuming information grounded in shoddy journalism. This is a positive development. People are learning to rely less on assumptions and second hand information in pursuit of truth.

Hopefully, the DOJ release helps speed that process.

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