For years, we and our friends in the newspaper world have operated under a double standard. In print, we’re all about accountability. Letters to the editor must have names. Information in news stories must be attributed. Online, however, we’re not as accountable. In our collective desperation for people to use our websites, we’ve allowed readers to offer their feedback anonymously. As all of us are well aware, anonymity emboldens some to be aggressive, even hurtful, in their comments. We’ve encouraged and enabled that cowardice.
We want to change that. Our first step has been encouraging people to use their real names online – no more pseudonyms like “Los Altan” or “Fed Up.” We may get fewer comments, but we feel it’s the right thing to do. We encourage our newspaper friends to follow suit.