Monday, December 03, 2007

On condition of anonymity

In an article published in the Taipei Times today, I look at the factors behind the growing presence of "anonymous sources" in today's news — a trend that, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US, is now threatening the very foundations of newsmaking.

Tracing its origins to the Vietnam War, I find two principal themes that could explain this new phenomenon — new in the sense that its use is now customary — (a) lack of protection for government dissidents and corporate whistleblowers; and (b) a growing reliance by governments on secrecy and deniability.

I conclude by arguing that the use of secrecy, of which anonymous sources are but a new expression, is adding distance between governments and the people and making it more difficult for people to make their own informed judgments about events.

Readers can access the full article by clicking here.

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