Can you trust anonymous sources in journalism?

To cite an anonymous source, a media outlet must first enjoy a high level of credibility.

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  • It's difficult for media outlets to stop using anonymous sources because identified past sources have been prosecuted for leaking information to reporters. Anonymity allows the sources to share information with the public with less threats of jail time and huge legal bills.
  • We have to suspend disbelief, and believe the reporters when anonymous sources are quoted, and decide whether a news outlet — such as BuzzFeed, amid its recent reporting regarding Michael Cohen — has our confidence and enjoys a high level of credibility.
  • Information naturally has more credibility, Abramson says, when it is attached to a named sourced. However, to get some crucial information to the public, there are times when anonymous sourcing is necessary.