I can speak only for myself and my own experiences. I have never, ever promised anonymity to sources in my reporting, and in the common circumstance in which sources try the "of course that's off the record," upon hearing from me that I do not EVER go off the record, in every single circumstance my source has told me everything on the record.and
For the life of me, I don't understand why not one blasted Washington reporter seems equipped to try that simple technique.
I also cannot fathom why they don't wonder why these public officials, especially those in the so-called majority of the majority that own all three branches of government and now also the Fourth Estate, would NEED anonymity for the baseless crap they are spewing and the MSM stenographers are "reporting."
The "off the record" generally means only that they want it out there but want us, the reporter, to be accountable for its authenticity instead of the source. To me, that's a no-brainer. NO! Although I stand by our need for reporters' privilege, I am ashamed that our abuse of it defeats the valid arguments for it.
Anonymity has become so common that sources assume they can just say "oh, and this is off the record" -- even (laughably) AFTER they've told you everything -- and it's a given.that all sounds kinda simple. I wonder if the cool kids can try it at home.
It's not, at least not for real journalists.
Anonymity, an off-the-record deal, is a two-way contract. If someone thinks they need it, we are to find out why, AND authenticate that reason why. Is his life really in danger? Her job? Real reporters don't just take his/her word for it. We check THAT out before entering an OTR deal. OTR is serious business, or at least should be.
Then real journos consider if the info is likely to be worth the compromise of their own credibility, because ANY anon source IS a compromise of their credibility.
I can't take seriously any reporter who attributes to "a senior White House official" who asks not to be named. Any real news reporter with anonymous sources better cite damn good reason why to me as a reader, or I don't want to read that reporter's byline again.