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Journalists and anonymous sources

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It seems like during every presidential election cycle, an article gets published in a mainstream publication using anonymous sources that has concerning information regarding one of the two main candidates vying for the most powerful office in the land.

That is happening again this week as the publication, The Atlantic magazine, says four unnamed sources reported President Donald Trump had disparaged fallen soldiers buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris as “suckers” and the land was “filled with losers”  back in 2018.

It also alleges he trashed Sen. John McCain following the late Senator’s death.

In lieu of this article being published, President Trump came out with a statement ahead of its publication. He tweeted, “I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things including ridiculous endless wars and the lack of success he had in dealing with the VA and our great Vets, but the lowering of our Nations American Flags, and the first class funeral he was given by our Country, had to be approved by me, as President, and I did so without hesitation or complaint. Quite the contrary, I felt it was well deserved. I even sent Air Force One to bring his body, in casket, from Arizona to Washington. It was my honor to do so. Also, I never called John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than heroes. This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting and jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!” I shared his full Tweet in response out of fairness.

This is the problem with using anonymous sources. The article won’t identify the unnamed sources so their names are not mentioned and the reader has to believe the journalist knows the identify of the sources. Meanwhile, President Trump’s name is mentioned and he felt it was necessary to defend himself.

This is why I choose not to use anonymous sources for stories I publish.

It truly is unfair to the targeted party in the story. To me, I believe journalists should work to get sources to go on the record with these types of stories. It gives them more credibility and closes the guess work for the reader. Using these sources opens a door for the reader to wonder if the journalist might be making up a news story with supposed sources that never existed in the first place.

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