Increasing numbers of news sites are crediting “anonymous” or “unnamed sources” in their articles, but why? What’s the big deal? Whose identity is so top secret that it needs to be kept under wraps?

Mostly, these “sources” simply don’t want their names to be related to certain news topics, for no reason but, to quote The Washington Post, “because of the delicacy of [certain] situations”.

Is this frustrating for the reader? In my opinion, yes. When I’m reading a story, be it gossip columns on showbiz websites, or hard news articles by newspapers, “unnamed sources” equals “made up people”, in my head at least.

The backlash from readers about the rising number of anonymous sources has prompted many newspapers and websites to start explaining why anonymous sources do not want to be identified.

  • In May 2013, in an article about Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr, a Los Angeles Times source remained nameless “to preserve the relationship with both companies”.
  • In October 2013, in a story about a local mayoral race, The Boston Globe left their source unidentified because their source “did not want to offend other unions”.