Anonymous source tracker
Continuously updated examples of the media's use of anonymous sources
A British government official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the investigation said details had emerged that were indicative of a "terrorist-motivated attack." While details were scant, Prime Minister David Cameron ...
Shanghai Daily (subscription) — ZTE, Huawei address US IT security concerns
... long been committed to providing reliable solutions for U.S. carriers and the company has pledged to offer high-level guarantees and safety evaluations for its software, firmware and hardware, according to a company executive who requested anonymity.
Grosse Pointe News (subscription) — Murder on Wayburn
According to a source, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak about the case, a neighbor of Gianino's was taken into custody over the weekend. The Wayburn resident, described as being in his late teens or early 20s, was ...
New York Times (blog) — Kill Bill
I asked a prominent Democratic lobbyist with just over $3 million in annual billings — who requested anonymity to avoid alienating his clients — about the difference between trying to win legislation and trying to block it. “It's significantly easier ...
New York Times — Questions About Police Response to Killing of a Gay Man in October
“They didn't talk to nobody that night,” said the witness, a 55-year-old Sunnyside resident who requested anonymity because the killers remained at large. About two hours before the attack, Mr. Rispoli left the apartment on 51st Street that he shared ...
Press TV — Obama loves leaks, despises whistleblowers
Regarding the president's indiscriminate counting method, one official “requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.” Meanwhile, the Obama administration has charged six whistle-blowers, a term apparently not in The New York ...
Reuters — Exclusive :China urbanization plan hits roadblock over spending fears-sources
"The leadership aims to jumpstart reforms, but local governments see this in a different perspective - they view this as the last opportunity to boost investment," said the economist who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. China ...
U.S. News & World Report — Stricken Japan nuke plant struggles to keep staff - U.S. News & World Report
They requested anonymity because their speaking to the media is a breach of their employers' policy and they say being publicly identified will get them fired. TEPCO spokesman Ryo Shimizu denied any shortage of workers, and said the decommissioning is ...
Charlotte Observer — Source says Mavericks preparing hot pursuit of free agent Dwight Howard
DALLAS Now that the Los Angeles Clippers have refused to offer coach Vinny Del Negro a new contract, a source said Wednesday that the Dallas Mavericks believe they have a better chance of acquiring Dwight Howard than acquiring Chris Paul. Howard is ...
Reuters — America's Cup makes changes to improve safety following death
Artemis Racing has proposed the use of smaller sails, power-assisted on-board controls and changes in rules relating to right-of-way and positioning on the water, a source close to the America's Cup told Reuters. Artemis is concerned about race ...
Reuters — When it comes to deadly viruses, what's in a name?
According to a source close to the discussions, who declined to be identified due to sensitivities surrounding the issue, one suggestion was to name the virus after Zaki as a tribute to his work; he lost his job after going public with his findings. It ...
ESPN — Carmelo Has Small Tear In Shoulder
If it is not healed at that point, then surgery will be considered, the source said. Dr. Neil Roth, an orthopedic surgeon at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital who specializes in sports medicine, estimates surgery could sideline Anthony for four months ...
About the tracker
The goal of the anonymous source tracker is to make the media's use of anonymous sources more transparent. It's an experiment, and as such it's imperfect and subject to change.
While it finds many examples of the use of anonymous sources, it doesn't find all anonymous sources used by newspapers, magazines, TV stations, wire services or other news outlets online.
It gets its examples from the English version of Google News. Phrases commonly used to identify anonymous sources are fed to Google News, which produces an Atom feed for each phrase. Those feeds are then combined under a single label, "anonymous," in Google Reader. That feed is public. Every hour a PHP script grabs the Google Reader feed, extracts the summary text, highlights the anonymous source phrasing, and puts it in a database to display on the anonymous source tracker.
Some examples are rejected, even though the articles they point to used anonymous sources, because the anonymous source phrasing isn't in the summary.
Some examples are duplicates. If a URL is already in the database, those examples are rejected. But sometimes the same story can have different URLs, so the same story can appear more than once. The same wire story may also be run by multiple outlets.
The news outlets scanned are the same outlets scanned by Google News. I don't know what criteria Google News uses to decide whether to include a Web site.
Typically Google returns a search result for a phrase giving a summary for only one outlet, with an "and more" link pointing to other matches for stories on the same subject. The anonymous source tracker doesn't grab those "and more" results, so many examples are undoubtedly missed.
I don't know how Google does what it does or why, or why one outlet is given prominence for a given search while another isn't, so I don't know if all outlets are being treated equally by the anonymous source tracker.
The count for each news outlet doesn't include every anonymously sourced story produced by that outlet. The counts shouldn't be considered valid rankings.
To quote Donald Rumsfeld, "there are known unknowns."
"That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know."
|Wall Street Journal||10,930|
|New York Times||4,617|
|San Francisco Chronicle||2,799|
|The Associated Press||2,594|
|Los Angeles Times||2,176|
|New York Daily News||2,136|
|Times of India||2,096|
|New York Post||1,866|
|New York Times (blog)||1,216|
|Wall Street Journal (blog)||1,146|
|The Star-Ledger - NJ.com||1,054|
|San Jose Mercury News||825|
|Washington Post (blog)||780|
|Sydney Morning Herald||736|
|The News International||656|
|Globe and Mail||604|