Yesterday I interviewed a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration who wouldn’t let me use his name in print.
He wasn’t providing any super-secret information and he isn’t a top official untrained in working with the press. He is part of the agency’s communications department, and yet he can’t communicate with his name.
News agencies occasionally allow sources to be anonymous if they have valuable information that can’t be gathered in another way. Or, I have allowed sources to be identified just by a first name if they make a convincing case that their safety or reputation is at stake by commenting publicly.
Having to own your quotes provides an additional level of accountability.
I told this motor carrier safety administration official, who was knowledgeable and friendly, that I didn’t think he needed to be anonymous and that he should tell his higher-ups that Americans don’t like all the secrecy.