August 18, 2007

On Condition Of Anonymity

I was just reading a Yahoo! (AP, to be precise) news item on the German woman who was abducted from a restaurant in Kabul, and according to the report, those who gave information to reporters did so on condition of anonymity.

Maybe it’s just me, or perhaps it’s my career security orientation, but whenever I run across the quote “on condition of anonymity” in a news article I think, “Oops, another leak“:

In most organizations, public or private, American or Zambuli (think Tanya Roberts in a loin cloth, riding a zebra and leading sports reporter Vic Casey all over jungles and plains, pursued by an OJ type guy and a bunch of hired mercenaries), there are regulations inherent to employment that direct those on the payroll to refer any inquiries by the media or other inquiring entities to specific management personnel.

Such regulations are well within the purview of management, be they government or the private sector, to insist upon as a condition of employment, either as a means of protecting proprietary information, controlling the flow of what might be privileged data, preventing elements of an investigation or other proceedings to be prematurely divulged, perhaps in a stage of incompletion that might disparage the organization because “all the facts” have not yet been disseminated or otherwise contaminate public perception of the organization’s intentions or policies with damaging results. Or, management of the organization in question may be looking to cultivate a specific reputation, or an employee’s volunteering information to the press might not include facts known by those whose responsibilities include functioning as spokespersons for the organization.

At any rate, I believe these regulations are well conceived, and I believe that giving information to the media “under condition of anonymity” should be considered uncontestable grounds for dismissal.

The single exception to this rule would, of course, be in the event that an employee knows that his or her employer, public or private, is actually in violation of the law.

by @ 6:57 am. Filed under Just Editorializing
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4 Responses to “On Condition Of Anonymity”

  1. Shoprat Says:

    Ah yes. A scantily clad Tanya Roberts was that movie’s sole redeeming feature.

    I think there is a human need just to “say something” and that’s what’s happening because obviously no one in the UN has a clue what is really going on.

  2. Seth Says:

    Shoprat –

    no one in the UN has a clue what is really going on.

    As usual, except those at or near the top who build personal fortunes illegally using their positions of trust.

  3. Uncle Pavian Says:

    I dunno. Often “on condition of anonymity” means “we made it up”.

  4. Seth Says:

    Uncle Pavian –

    Ain’t that the truth.

    Nonetheless, loose lips do sink ships.

    Most organizations/agencies/firms have designated spokespersons who clear their interactions with the media through upper management before making statements, or who are upper management, and anyone who makes unauthorized statements is a weak link, regardless of the accuracy of what they say — officially or not, they are still placing themselves in the position of representing their respective organizations in the eyes of the public.