Friday, June 25, 2010

Civil Beat Publishes Anonymous Source Policy, Will Link to it Every Time

We published our anonymous source policy on Civil Beat today, concurrently with the use of an anonymous source in an article on the impact of the recession on a Honolulu neighborhood.

Every time we use an anonymous source in an article, we'll link to the policy. I'm not sure anybody else is doing that. The reader can be the judge of whether we followed our policy.

Here's some key language from the policy:

"At Civil Beat, we believe that anonymous sources are sometimes necessary when they're the only way we can share important information. We only use them, though, when we believe the public benefit clearly outweighs any potential downsides. Anonymous sources must be used carefully. The decision is in our sole judgment. To retain your trust, we believe we must explain why we granted anonymity. It's not enough for us that somebody might ask for anonymity.

"It's important to state: We always try to obtain information on the record. But there may be cases where that's impossible, and yet we believe we have information that is essential for the public to know. In such cases, before considering granting anonymity, we must know that the source or sources are reliable and that they have direct knowledge of the subject. We always try to confirm information by seeking multiple sources. We decide to grant anonymity because we believe the person has a justifiable reason not to speak on the record."




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