Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Anthony L. Fargo
Journalists sometimes obtain information from sources who do not want to be identified by name in news stories because they fear retribution or embarrassment. often, this information helps journalists uncover illegal or unethical behavior by government officials or other powerful people. Journalists in many countries adhere to a longstanding tradition of protecting confidential sources' identities so that these and future sources will trust reporters with sensitive information. However, if the source's information is published and indicates the source may have committed or witnessed a crime or has information helpful to a civil litigant, the journalist may receive a legal order, known in the United States as a subpoena, ordering him or her to reveal the source's identity. Such situations create conflicts between journalists' professional standards and their duties as citizens to obey valid court orders or risk the consequences of disobeying, which can include fines or imprisonment. Because journalists often ...