London Intelligence only works effectively when trusted by readers and sources.
Only with careful usage and treatment of reliable sources – both on and off the record – can London Intelligence function as an outlet for serious investigative journalism and cogent independent analysis.
Hence, London Intelligence carefully and sparingly uses confidential sources. This preserves the integrity of its journalism and protects sources and readers.
In this respect, London Intelligence sticks to point 5 of the Code of Conduct established by the National Union of Journalists (UK) which states a journalist must ‘obtain material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means’.*
Readers, viewers and listeners rightly need to trust London Intelligence. They appreciate candour. They need to know as much as possible about where London Intelligence secures its information.
Routinely, wherever possible, London Intelligence will name non-confidential sources and provide their title and the organisation, if any, that they represent. Exceptions arise occasionally, such as government officials who prefer their comments to be attributed to a ‘spokesperson’ rather than to themselves as named individuals.
A source may be initially offered anonymity to open a dialogue with them or to get an interview. After an initial conversation, London Intelligence may talk with the source to see if they can safely go on the record with their information they want publicly aired.
Yet with some sensitive stories, sources of information insist they need confidentiality and anonymity. A source’s need for confidentiality arises when the source – for instance, a ‘whistleblower’ – faces the possible loss of income or their job, or fear some other form of harmful reprisal.
Readers though rightly appreciate the need to carefully use such confidential sources.
London Intelligence will only sparingly use reliable confidential sources in order to publish information that is in the public interest that might not otherwise see the light of day. In these instances, London Intelligence will explain to readers why these sources are authoritative, what motivates them, and why they demand confidentiality.
London Intelligence will not offer any source payment for information, confidential or otherwise.
Upon agreeing to anonymity for a confidential source, London Intelligence will not disrespect readers by blithely using commonly used blind attributions, such as ‘sources say’. Descriptions will be as detailed as possible to give the reader an idea of the level and reliability of the confidential source – but in all such instances London Intelligence will carefully protect the anonymity of the source.
Sources must feel certain that if they tell London Intelligence something in confidence then that information will definitely stay confidential. Equally, such sources must feel confident their anonymity will permanently remain protected.
In this respect, London Intelligence adheres to point 7 of the NUJ Code of Conduct that demands a journalist ‘protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work’.
Confidential sources must have first-hand experience of the situation they speak of – and in most cases that experience must be verifiable from other sources or strongly corroborated by information from other independent sources.
London Intelligence will not publish speculative material provided by any source.
Sources must therefore expect London Intelligence to carry out additional reporting to verify their information.
However, they can also be certain that, once publication is agreed, their wish for confidentiality will be respected and carefully maintained. Sources can also rest assured that their information will only be used for that one agreed story and not on subsequent ones.
In these ways, sources’ confidentiality and anonymity will be protected permanently.
Readers’ can therefore trust London Intelligence, its sources, information, journalism and analysis.
© London Intelligence 2018