Guide on Confiendtial Sources

What to do and How to Handle Confidential Sources

What is a Confidential Source?

They are defined as a person who gives information to journalists or law enforcement. However, they are kept a secret under the 1st amendment (to the journalists) and the Federal Freedom of Information Act (to the law enforcement.)

When you use Confidential Sources...

  • The source must give a story that concerns the public

  • You have to be sure there is no other way to get information from the source on the record

  • Verify that the source has good knowledge of the story.

  • Reveal to the public why the source cannot be named and what, if any, promises made in order to get the information needed for the story.

  • If you name the source, they may not help you anymore.

  • Ask carefully so you don’t give away anything about the source

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How Confidential Sources Want To Be Known As

Questions To Think About...

  • Does your source help give accurate information for your story?
  • If you are sued, will the source come forward and be named?
  • What would be the public’s reaction to the information if they knew the source’s identity and motive?
  • If you are covering the source, will you use techniques to protect him/her?
  • Will the source be easy to identify after the protection techniques?
  • Are you following the policy at your newsroom?
  • What would be the public’s reaction to the information if they knew the source’s identity and motive?
  • Is the information logical and supported by evidence? Is it mainly facts or it based on opinions?
  • How close does it relate to the topic you're searching for?
  • Does the source have any political or religious views?

  • Is the source dealing with a special group that could give one side of the view?

Example of A Confidential Source

Guide on Evaluating Sources

When Evaluating Sources...

  • To figure out how to evaluate sources, you need to know if you can prove it in government records or any other type of document.

  • You also need to know if you can confirm it in further research with other sources

  • Figure out if your source has someone else that knows what he knows.

  • Look into his background to see if he is reliable enough to be a source.

Questions To Think About...

  • Is there a point to why he gave the information?
  • Does any of the information seem questionable?
  • Does the source explain the source?
  • Do have a close relationship with a source?
  • Why this source?
  • Is there an expert on that field of information and could give a look into it and verify the info to my source?


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Thanks For Watching!!!

Citation (Websites Used)

Steele, Bob. "Guidelines for Evaluating Sources." RTDNA. Radio Television Digital News Association, 2013. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.rtdna.org/content/evaluating_sources>.


Steele, Bob. "Guidelines for Using Confidential Sources." RTDNA. Radio Television Digital News Association, 2013. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.rtdna.org/content/confidential_sources>.

"Chapter 60: Sources & Confidentiality." Chapter 60: Sources & Confidentiality. David Ingram and Peter Henshall, 2008. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Manuals Volume 3/volume3_60.htm>.

Tompkins, Al. "Guidelines for Interviewing Confidential Sources." Poynter. The Poynter Institute, 13 Aug. 2003. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://www.poynter.org/uncategorized/1755/guidelines-for-interviewing-confidential-sources-who-when-and-why/>.

"Tips for Evaluating Sources." Tips for Evaluating Sources. Bedford/ St. Martin's, n.d. Web. 23 May 2013. <http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/tips-for-evaluating-sources.htm>.