Beware the unnamed spokesperson

Beware the unnamed spokesperson

Have you noticed it? The proliferation of unnamed spokespeople being quoted by journalists.

It’s rampant and many journalists are complicit in allowing anonymous media spokespeople to say what they want, or provide statements, without attribution.

Search for the phrase ‘a spokesperson said’ in Google News and note the many reports from around the world quoting unnamed spokespeople.

It’s no different here in Australia.

Having noticed this trend, for the past few months I’ve tried to attribute every quote or comment made in any article I’ve written.

It’s easy to go back to anyone requesting answers to questions be attributed to “a spokesperson” and advise that it’s not a media outlet’s policy to quote unnamed people without good reason (comments from a whistleblower who fears for their job or safety, for example).

Most spokespeople are subsequently OK with having their name attached to answers to questions. Others less so.

unnamed spokesperson

So why do so many journalists neglect to name who is saying what on a government’s or corporation’s behalf? How many even ask for a name to be attributed to a comment?

Journalists should name names.



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