Should Newspaper Reporters be Required to Reveal their Sources?
The question whether reporters should be required to reveal their sources is very complex, as it directly affects two important issues. The first issue is the very quality of the news reporting. In particular, the articles based on anonymous sources may appear sooner and become sensational. Still, their credibility is not so high.
The second issue is the legal consequences of journalist investigation. In particular, being required to reveal the source, the journalist can put the source or even oneself at risk. However, refusing to do so, the journalists does not let the case raised by his article be investigated. I believe that newspaper reporters should be required to reveal their sources, as this requirement promotes the quality of reporting and assures the establishment of truth and justice. The proponents of journalists’ right to protect the confidentiality of their sources stipulate it interferes with the freedom of press and makes journalists break the promise they have given to the source to get the necessary information. It is important to state that the journalists who refuse to break their promise face legal consequences, such as fines and even imprisonment (Phillips).
However, it does not speak against the law, but rather against the soundness of making such promises. The source must appreciate he can face legal responsibility for his words. Otherwise, he can simply manipulate the reporter telling him a lie in order to gain business or political benefits. Therefore, the law as such is to the benefit of the reporter, as it takes the responsibility for giving untrue information from him. However, it also happens that the appeal to the protection of sources’ rights is only a shield masking the use of dubious, unreliable, and prejudiced sources. Sometimes, in the race for sensations journalists do not consider the consequences of their work, which can hurt someone’s image or even raise a scandal.
Quality reporting means taking more time to verify the information and possibly finding sources who are ready to name themselves. Therefore, the possibility that the reporter will be required to reveal the sources also obliges him to choose the sources with greater responsibility and not to invent news by himself. It is important to understand that the journalist is ordered to disclose the identity of a source only in the situations of vital importance and only upon the court decision (“Protection of Sources”). The reporter is not required to disclose sources on the demand of the influential people, so the law does pose any pressure on the freedom of reporting. It simply assures that when there is any dispute, truth is established. The people who have simply invented the fact and told it to the reporter should face legal consequences.
The reporter who has misinterpreted the words of the source, which is impossible to see unless the source testifies himself, can publicly excuse and publish a refutation. On the other hand, the testimony of the credible source can prove …