My policy on anonymous sources

I’m wrapping up a successful trip to Chicago where I had the opportunity to meet with Groupon PR and several Groupon insiders, talk with merchants and experiment with Groupon Now in a market where the product has sufficient density for it to be useful. I also had the chance to visit the first business ever to run a Groupon.

I didn’t, however, have the opportunity to enter Groupon’s offices. An offer to meet with employees and management in Groupon’s offices was rescinded because I refused to agree to Groupon’s condition that I identify confidential sources I was meeting with. No journalist worth his salt would ever agree to such a condition; I wouldn’t have agreed to such a condition when I was a reporter for my high school paper.

Like any journalist, I prefer to have sources on the record and fully identified in stories. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to talk about the inner workings of corporate America without the use of anonymous sources. When companies are under the microscope as Groupon currently is, anyone talking to the media without approval is putting his or job at jeopardy. Anonymity is often the only outlet that such employees have to share their insights.

I’m not about to put someone’s job or career at risk in exchange for access.

The risk of using anonymous sources is that people will use anonymity to take out grudges. I work to balance that by talking to numerous sources and verifying information that is provided anonymously.

I will continue to provide the best reporting and analysis of the daily deals space I can.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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