Would you – and should you – ever trust an “unnamed” or “unconfirmed” source?

I was (rather unusually) flicking through a glossy, weekly magazine the other day and found myself reading quotes from an “unnamed source” time and time again.

I questioned each one’s credibility and marvelled at how full-page stories were created around them. But, if I was a regular reader, would that disbelief disappear? Is the frequency of their inclusion a sign that a specific set of magazine readers are happy to accept stories based on rumor and gossip? Could it actually be what they demand?

A movie released in 2000 called “Gossip” carried the tagline: You Know You Love It. Whoever came up with that was clearly very wise.

Ahead of the official World Cup 2018 announcement today, the Sky News team discussed at length “unconfirmed” reports that the England bid had been rejected during the first stage of voting; BBC Radio 5 live also prematurely quoted Spanish reports that (correctly) claimed Russia had been successful.

Twitter, of course, went into speculation overdrive:

Whether it was all a result of the delay of the official announcement, or simply an unfortunate and very public leak, the power of speculation was overwhelming.

People clearly love rumor and supposition, so will more of our news be delivered this way in the not so distance future?

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