A supervisor decides if anonymous news is shared.

Individual NPR journalists — reporters, producers, bloggers and others — do not on their own have the authority to assure any individual that information he gives us anonymously will be reported on our airwaves or by NPR.org.

For sure, sometimes in the course of reporting we gather important information that a source will only reveal if the conversation is “off the record.” But the decision as to whether that information will be reported by NPR can only be made in consultation with an editor. As the level of importance of the information rises, so should the level of editor who is pulled into the conversation. There is no hard-and-fast rule. When in doubt, editors should always err on the side of caution and consult with the next person above them.

If a reporter and editor know ahead of time that a key interview can only be done if the source is granted anonymity, they must have a conversation in advance with a senior editor and make the case for granting it.

October 17, 2011

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