Source means a place, person or a thing form which something originates or can be obtained. In Journalism, sources have a special meaning and refer to the person or document or any office for where information is collected.
Sources are very important in news writing because they hold the key element of news: The information, facts, details, inside facts, secrets, statistics, inside story and the reality.
Sources make the news reliable and clear. Journalists should generally mention the sources in the news itself. This helps people to understand the truth in the news. Since the sources of the presented or mentioned, the work is said to be credible and authentic. The most common sources mentioned are: officials or police said. Press releases, statement in a program can also be taken as a source. Sources play a vital role in not just print but audio visual media too.
It is not possible or difficult to mention all sources of news but a working journalist should know who should be contacted in their area and what kind of information can be gathered through that person.
There are some categories of sources listed below even though everyone can be sources in journalism.
- Official sources: These sources are believed to be the most authentic and reliable sources because they have some sort of authority of post or position and are formally recognized. Eg: government officers, police, chief district officer etc.
- Informed Sources: These sources have first hand information about the event, incident or accident but do not hold formal post. E.g. Passengers of bus which was robbed.
- Expert sources: These sources are expert and well recognized in their domain and hence considered reliable sources. E.g. Economics professor, cardiac doctor
- On the spot sources or eye witness: They are the primary sources or eye witnesses of an accident or happening. They may vary from being illiterate to PHD holders. E.g. Eye witness of bus accident or survivors of it.
- Confidential sources: They are the whistleblowers who do not wish to reveal their identity and hence, journalist respects their wish to keep the sources confidential. e.g.: A privy source
- Documents: Record, statistics, are also very important sources to journalist. Some of these sources can be easily available while some may be restricted to be seen. E.g. Bank account or details
The sources mentioned above were all found in the analysis of “The Himalayan Times” of 27th, 28th and 29th December, 2015. Press release and press statements were quite prevalent as the ratio of official sources. One confidential source was also found. The majority had official sources holding a position like prime minister, finance minister etc.
The sources in the news stories especially hard news was used excessively to make their news story more credible and reliable.