A Word About Anonymous Sources

Veronika Lee, Editor in Chief

This is my first year living in New Orleans. I’ve seen a major hotel collapse that is still rotting away blocks from where I live, and I saw people continue to have parades and celebrate. According to stats, there has already been a 57 percent increase since 2018 in car break-ins citywide. Two weeks ago, I saw tuition-paying students still scrambling to put together insurance claims for their damaged vehicles as a Mardi Gras parade was ending on campus. 

Perhaps UNO is merely a reflection of the larger picture of New Orleans. A beautiful, resilient place full of life, but one that should probably pay attention to its health and wellness first and foremost. 

(A recent article in The Atlantic seems to agree with me.)

When covering the most recent campus break-ins, I walked two miles all over university grounds personally without seeing a single police officer. This was at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. In a city such as the one we are living in, that seems strange. Certainly, students don’t want to feel they are under surveillance 24/7, but something should be in place to make us feel safer. 

The concept of “fake news” is quite literally ruining this country right now. There is a problem with legitimacy in every narrative constructed. Without a solid foundation for our reports, it’s most likely they will be forgotten. Donald Trump has had complaints about his real estate ventures, similar to grievances we detailed about PPlace. But without proper reporting with names and records, the story and potential for real change is just left to collapse and decay over time. 

One thing that has stuck out to us as staff writers is the condition of anonymity requested by almost all of our sources – students and police officers. What does this say about the society we are living in? What does it say about our campus community? Is the relationship between those who have been hired to protect the community so fractured by a contentious history with news media?

It’s interesting to see that many people spend a good portion of their day speaking their minds on social media. Facebook usually has a person’s legal name on display with their opinions. And yet, when a student journalist from Driftwood approaches in person for an opinion or a quote, faces drop, muscles freeze in place. 

Some sources suggest their fear is losing their financial aid (which we believe is not a legitimate concern) and we speculate that in a culture that does not reward “snitching,” most people simply don’t want to look like they are getting a friend or friend-of-a-friend in trouble. Some people have personal reasons for not wanting to be revealed. Maybe it’s just not cool to be seen talking to a print newspaper.

The possibilities are endless.

If anything has come to the surface via Driftwood’s reporting the last few weeks, it’s that this campus does need to make some changes. We are a city university in a city where crime is regrettably rampant, and it’s the opinion of Driftwood that this campus could use more of a security presence. 

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression. We continue to humbly ask the students, faculty, staff and alumni of University of New Orleans to join in contributions to Driftwood. This is your paper as much as it is ours. Our ears are always open at [email protected]

Photo: Newspaper section of Emily McPherson College Library, Russell Street, circa 1960s via Unsplash