June 17, 2004

Information, Knowledge and Sources

Andrew Cline at Rhetorica examines the relationship between reporters and sources -- anonymous and otherwise -- and what that means to journalism as a process of verification. It's well worth reading to understood the deeper implications of anonymous sourcing. Here's a taste:

Information (statements about facts in the world) does not exist without a human intention. Every little bit of information relayed by the media everyday springs from some human intention to communicate it. And, I would further argue, that those intentions are rhetorical, i.e. to move hearts and minds. For information to become knowledge (information embedded in a context), news consumers must know something of its origin, context and purpose. Whether information is cited from anonymous sources or stated on the authority of the news organization, it is politically useless without trust, accuracy, and an understanding of its origin, context and purpose. To be good, journalism, whether it relies on anonymous sources or not, must meet these needs. (Emphasis added.)

I posted on the anonymous sources yesterday [Read: According to This Reporter: Sources and Accountability ]. Read the rest of Cline's essay here.

Posted by Tim Porter at June 17, 2004 10:09 AM