Why the Long Beach Post used 2 unnamed sources in its police-shooting investigation

The Post does not use unnamed sources lightly. Trust and credibility with our readers are critical to what we do, and in all cases, we strive to demonstrate to our readers that we are basing news content on solid information, from either source documents or people who are in a position to shed light on a topic.

There are times, however, when using unnamed sources may be necessary.

In a story published today about the way the Long Beach Police Department investigates officer-involved shootings, we use two unnamed sources. Both individuals have a reasonable expectation of financial reprisal or termination if their identities are known. And, importantly, these two individuals are among a limited number of people who would have access to the information reported in the story.

Both of the individuals in the story are known to management at the Long Beach Post, and we have discussed in depth their potential conflicts, biases, and whether their comments unfairly criticize the department behind a shield of anonymity.

In both cases, we agree the information they add to the story outweighs these concerns, particularly because the topic of when police use deadly force and how officers are held accountable for their decisions is worthy of scrutiny.

Using unnamed sources is an infrequent practice, and one we take very seriously. Please read our full policy on unnamed sources here.

If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected], or [email protected]

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.
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