More on Transparency

And now transparency. This is a word that has a lot of different connotations, depending on what you’re talking about.

For the purposes of this course, there are two meanings to transparency.

  1. Specifying in a story what you do not know or could not learn.  For example: “It could not be learned… He or she could not be reached for comment.” 
  2. Specifying how the reporter got the information. For example: “In an interview at his front door, the suspect said…According to documents obtained by Channel 6 News…”

Examples of transparency are seen when a reporter lets you see crucial information to the story, such as source documents or recordings that were made that implicate or serve as evidence to the main points of the story.

We also like to point out that when anonymous sources are used in a story, transparency becomes even more important. When reporters use lines such as:

  • ...could not be reached
  • ...requested anonymity because she feared for her job.
  • ...reporter tried to contact the family at their home, but no one came to the door.
  • ...The information could not be independently verified.

The reporter in these cases are informing the audience -- where appropriate -- how the story was put together.