THE reputation for accuracy and freedom from bias of journalists rests on the credibility of their sources. This is even more so when they are covering conflicts as well as peace efforts, as is the case in Mindanao.

For the sixth session of the PCIJ-Newsbreak seminar on “Reporting on Conflict and Peace: The Story of Mindanao,” Manny Mogato, senior Manila correspondent of Reuters and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao correspondent and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, reminded journalists about the essentials of sourcing that they ought to always keep in mind:

  • A good journalist is always the best source on a witnessed event.
  • A named source is always preferable to an unnamed source.
  • Anonymous sources are the weakest sources.

In dealing with anonymous sources, Mogato said that journalists should rely on their better judgment as to the accuracy, reliability, and newsworthiness of the information obtained from them. Mogato said they must have direct knowledge of the information they are giving, or represent an authority with direct knowledge.

Listen to Mogato’s talk on Sourcing and Corroboration:

  • Part 1
    Length: 00:24:32
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 22.4 MB
  • Part 2
    Length: 00:24:47
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 22.6 MB

Listen to Alipala’s talk:

    Length: 00:21:20
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 19.5 MB

Mogato added that in order of strength, unnamed sources can be ranked as follows: authoritative sources who exercise real authority on an issue in question; official sources who have access to information in an official capacity; and designated sources who, like official sources, have access to reliable information on the subject in question.

Caution also has to be observed when reporting on rumors, or unconfirmed reports, he said, telling them to confirm with at least two sources to determine whether these are true or not.

Alipala, on the other hand, advised journalists to always be aware that the protagonists in a conflict have their respective agenda. She said that they should exert efforts to also include the “small voices” of the people in the community when they report on conflicts andpeace efforts.

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