We recently reported a little bit of an anonymous letter.
We pay attention to anonymous tips. It’s our job. Often a whistle blower has information about a crime, an injustice, an abusive relationship, and reasonably wants to remain anonymous, fearing job reprisal or the wrath of someone they see regularly.
The federal government has enacted specific laws that protect whistle blowers, so wrongdoings can be reported without harm to the messenger.
We also protect whistle blowers.
We are honor bound, as is all news media, not to reveal sources who ask to be anonymous.
All anyone has to do to remain anonymous is tell us they want to remain anonymous. It’s that simple.
And, if a person we know wants to tell us something that won’t be said to come from them, all they have to do is inform us that what they are telling us is off the record.
Confidentiality is standard operating procedure in the news business.
A week or so ago, we received an anonymous letter about the search, or relative lack of a search, for a community college president.
The North Platte Community College Board of Governors will consider and act on a recommendation concerning the hiring of a president when it meets Wednesday, May 23 in room 200 of the W.W. Wood Building on the college's North Campus.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Consideration and possible action on the president is scheduled to occur near the end of the meeting.
We wrote a story about it, not because of the anonymous letter, as a subsequent anonymous letter writer assumed. We wrote the story about because prominent members of the community came to us in person. They expressed concern about the college. They said the search for a president seemed fishy, and they couldn’t figure out why it would be. We talked about it.
In such situations, we typically ask a few general questions of the source to clarify the basics, the “who-what-when and where.” If a tip is bogus, it tends to fall apart under such questioning. If it is solid, we have more facts from which to investigate.
That too is part of the job.
In the end, we wrote two articles about the college search, and in doing so reported a little of what the anonymous letter said.
The information from the letter was at the bottom of the news story, where it belonged.
It was possibly germane. It was possibly important. But no one knew. There was no way to know.
If you want to tell us something, talk to us. We’ll ask for a bit more information, but we will not need your name.