The Daily Evergreen

Editorial Board: Sources from public records deserve benefit of doubt

Anonymous sources should be treated as fairly as named ones

Jason+Gesser%2C+former+assitant+athletic+director+of+the+CAF%2C+resigned+from+his+position+following+multiple+sexual+harassment+allegations.
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Editorial Board: Sources from public records deserve benefit of doubt

Jason Gesser, former assitant athletic director of the CAF, resigned from his position following multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Jason Gesser, former assitant athletic director of the CAF, resigned from his position following multiple sexual harassment allegations.

DAILY EVERGREEN ARCHIVES

Jason Gesser, former assitant athletic director of the CAF, resigned from his position following multiple sexual harassment allegations.

DAILY EVERGREEN ARCHIVES

DAILY EVERGREEN ARCHIVES

Jason Gesser, former assitant athletic director of the CAF, resigned from his position following multiple sexual harassment allegations.

EDITORIAL BOARD

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Dismissing the credibility of anonymous sources obtained from public records without understanding why they are unnamed is ignorant.

In the investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Assistant Athletic Director Jason Gesser, a number of allega­tions were recovered from public records. The names of the victims were left out by the Evergreen in order to protect the women and their reputation.

A number of Facebook users responded to the article with doubts as to the legitimacy of the allegations because the names of the people who allegedly had sexual encounters with Gesser were not in the article.

It is reasonable to be suspi­cious of sources who are com­pletely anonymous, like the letter published in the New York Times that was allegedly from a White House official.

Doubting the existence of these people, even when it is proven through public sources that they exist, is foolishness.

Even though the sources weren’t identified, they are still people. The records prove it.

When a follow-up story was published where a former WSU volleyball player filed an OEO sexual misconduct complaint against Gesser and agreed to show her face and name in the paper, no such doubts ever appeared on social media.

It could be that people need to see a face in order to believe that accusations exist. But it is hypo­critical to immediately doubt the existence of anonymous sources when public records prove oth­erwise.

A source without a name is a source nonetheless.

There was also discomfort, both online and from Gesser himself, at the inclusion of infor­mation about Gesser’s “private life” in the article. However, details from the original article about the allegations were pulled from public records, which are available to anyone who submits a request to the WSU Public Records office.

When a person’s interactions — with friends, colleagues and the like — are questioned and a formal report is taken, those actions are no longer private.

However, reporting on claims is not a condemnation from the Evergreen or our staff. That is never the mission of an honest media outlet. It is the duty of the press to follow up on tips, includ­ing those from anonymous sourc­es until it is determined whether there is a story there or not.

There is a difference between unfounded character assessments and fact-based reporting from public records. Failure to report on the latter would have been an act of negligence by the journal­ists involved.

The goal of writing the Gesser story was never malicious; it was to fulfill the journalists’ duty of informing the public through thoroughly investigative, properly contextualized reporting.

The journalists who reported the Gesser story have not, and will not tell the reader who is or is not guilty, because it is not their job. Their job is to serve the public interest in bringing truth to light — and that is what they have done.

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Editorial Board: Sources from public records deserve benefit of doubt