Friday, April 20, 2018

AK Press Club: Some Afternoon Highlights - Panels on Data and Anonymous Sources

I can't keep up the pace I started this morning.  Here are just some notes

Heather Bryant presented on Using Data.  A great quote went something like, "Data and Fact are synonyms in the dictionary only."

This is a topic I've scratched a number of times.  Heather reminded me of lots of things I've heard before but had forgotten.  Most useful for me was a list of links to resources.
Sorry, the light in the room was bad and even playing with contrast didn't help the image much, but I've listed a bunch below.

DataViz Tools

The Next Panel:

Anonymous Sources  - NPR - KTVA-TV News Director Janis Harper, Managing Editor Sara Goo, CoastAlaska's Ed Schoenfeld.

This really was a panel discussion.  I don't think any of the panelists actually made a presentation.  They just jumped into discussing the topic.  Here are some highlights.  Again, this is rough in the interest of getting this up quickly.  If I have time, I may come back to clean it up a bit.

Reasons people want to be anonymous:

  • People had genuine story and good reason not be be identified
  • People who didn't understand how journalism works 
  • People who saw journalists on TV or movies - someone wanted to be paid for his story or wants something

Examples, of anonymous source

Goo:  I need to understand something even if I can't report it.  Situation where people are ok giving their names, but we think it's not a good idea, that they might not understand the impact.  Case where interviewed someone for print, but when it went online we decided not to put name up because not sure that person agreed to the online use.

Using actors to read out the words in the interview - in a video on drug addicts.
In small communities often hard to get someone that people can't figure out.

Remember the guideline "to do no harm."    

Panelists had already handed out the Fairness section of the NPR ethics code.

Take pressure off source by getting them to help you find a document that has the information in it.  

Examples of getting documents and hard drive data anonymously.  In one case, salacious, but no real wrong doing.  Confirming with others.  

Even in small towns where you think you know people, you can still get used by someone.  Be suspicious about another person and why they're telling me the story.  But if they have documentation, even if the person doesn't have honorable intentions.  Another person's intent was to positively impact someone else.  Or just ask, "Why are you telling me this?  Why me?"

Someone doesn't want to be on the record, you can refuse and say, "just don't tell me."  Because they really want to tell you.  Or someone tells you it's off the record thinking that means you can't report it.  Response:  No, I just need to find another source for the information and not attribute it to you.  

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