The ethics related to the use of anonymous sources includes two main values: a duty to inform the public and a duty to do so in a truthful and transparent manner. Many journalists and editors encounter important vital information that can only be disclosed by a source "off the record.” A journalist should consult with an editor regarding publishing such information. There is no a strict rule; there are reasons regarding when it is appropriate and when it is not to publish anonymous sources.
The reason for anonymity is to help reveal significant stories that otherwise would not be known. Anonymous sources can be an important tool if they are used with caution and attention to detail. Contemporary society sometimes makes it risky for people to make certain statements based on their opinions, even despite having a piece of evidence underlying them. In such situations, it is important to offer the source remain anonymous to avoid backlash. Doing so can be extremely effective in promoting freedom of speech and/or expression in society. It gives the public a platform to voice their opinions (especially controversial ones) and it also allows for the rest of society to process newfound information, and develop their own opinions.
Anonymity is able to make a cathartic effect. This means that it can provide mental relief through the expression of strong beliefs and emotions openly. Such situations are especially true when a person comes forth with evidence of sexual harassment, child abuse, or other similar horrendous acts.
There are a number of considerations that should be taken to attention when the situation is related to the use of anonymous sources. First of all, is it possible to obtain the same information somewhere else where you do not have to use an anonymous source? It is always preferable to use the information with a cited or a named source. In many cases, it is possible to do. If this cannot be done, it is important to evaluate the situation. Do people have a really valid reason for asking to be anonymous? Some of them can be a young offender or a sexual assault victim, and the law is very clear about that.
There are also the gray areas where it is necessary to judge whether the person would be harmed if he or she is named, or whether he or she will likely to be harmed by being named. If people are likely to suffer physical harm because of the publishing the information provided by them, it is a good reason to grant anonymity.
The ethics related to the use of anonymous sources includes two main values: a duty to inform the public and a duty to do so in a truthful and transparent manner. Many journalists and editors encounter important vital information that can only be disclosed by a source "off the record.” A journalist should consult with an editor regarding publishing such information.