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Addressing anonymous sources and controversial topics

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After talking to a friend about some things, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is still quite a lot about this being an independent news site which I’m still learning.

One of those things is addressing anonymous sources, and one-source stories.

In journalism school we’re taught to  never use anonymous sources unless you absolutely need to, and that for every story you should have at least two sources.

My story about the photographer who was kicked out of the fair broke both of those guidelines.

To be perfectly honest, I knew I needed two sources, and I knew I should probably have named him, too. If you’re reading this, just know that this whole site is still very much a work in progress. I’m learning what works, what doesn’t work, and how best to approach everything.

I’m starting to understand why it’s extremely crucial to demand that sources identify themselves, unless they have a good reason not to. As a rule of thumb, next time if someone comes to me with something controversial, don’t expect me to simply agree to not identify who you are.

There’s several reasons for that.

One is if you’re anonymous, you can say almost anything about anyone and not worry about the repercussions. And, that’s not what this site is for.

I won’t let this become a pulpit for people who have an ax to grind. If you have an issue with something, I’ll listen to what you have to say, but I fully expect you to identify yourself at the same time. Them are the rules.

Secondly, I still want this site to be primarily about art and entertainment in Montana, and maybe sometimes out of Montana.

If you come to me with a story idea that’s not arts related, you’re really going to need to convince me as to why I should be running it on my site.

This will be even more crucial when I start selling advertisements that are seeking a certain type of demographic. It’s for that reason, and countless others I won’t bore you with, that I need to stay on topic with everything I write. The topics are up to my discretion yes, but I will not let anyone influence my editorial standards to help them serve their personal ends.

If I’m writing a story on your work or for you, it’s because I chose to do it, not because you won me over or you fooled me or you paid for me to write something about what you have going on.

I really want that to be clear going forward.

Like I said, this is a learning process and if there are bumps in the road, well that’s to be expected.I have already made a few and there will sure to be more mistakes. That’s life.

In closing, know that while I won’t always make the right decision, I do have a strong desire to keep things positive, educational and fun around here. I believe that’s what people expect from me, and it’s something I very much expect in myself.

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