My Journalism prof sent the class a link to the current American Journal Review editorial where the editor, Rem Rieder rants about Anon comments on news websites. The subheadline says it all: "It's time for news sites to stop allowing anonymous online comments."
Since the AJR doesn't allow Comments, I thought I'd try to do that Journalistic fair-and-balanced thing and talk about the other side--not that I'm overly fond of Cowardly Anon Nitwits.
First off, I can tell Mr. Rieder has led a sheltered life as the ONLY example he uses of a horrible Comment was this, and it was referring to a public official in--of all places--rough and tumble New Orleans:
"Theriot, just another Jefferson Parish politician thug mobster trained by his mentor..dressed up in a façade of respectability by a corrupt Louisiana Legislature."
Hmm...sounds like Mr. Theriot (who briefly filed a defamation suit against the paper over the Anon Comments published) has pretty thin skin as well.
My Irish mother taught me a long time ago that "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me." Geeze, if he really thinks that one is so bad, I should send him some of the choice comments I've had hurled my way over the past three years here and for seven or eight years earlier on Masslive, the Springfield Republican website.
What I worry about most--and what the editor completely ignores--are folks who post Anonymously because they fear retaliation, as in losing their jobs (which we saw here in Amherst when the Town Manager fired an Information Technology employee for copying a job related letter of complaint to the entire Select Board.)
And no, "Whistleblower Protection" does not trickle down to a town level as it is a Federal Law that only protects Federal employees who blow the whistle on corruption.
Catherine Sanderson (you know--the School Committee blogger that five school committee Chairs would love for the District Attorney to shut down) defends Anon posts on her blog because she knows some of them come from "insider" employees who could lose their jobs, or parents worried administrators or teachers could retaliate against their kids.
Family comes first.
"No Comment" Editorial June/July American Journalism Review