More publications take aim at anonymous comments

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\”Call the Tune\” by Mike Anthony

Regular readers of this column are well aware of our disdain for websites and blogs that allow the posting of anonymous comments.

As we’ve written before, such anonymity only fosters a lack of civility in public discourse.

Some websites and most blogs typically allow anonymous comments to be posted. While sometimes these comments can be highly entertaining — particularly when the anonymous author reveals his appalling lack of literacy — more often than not such remarks are personally damaging, demeaning, disgusting, false or perhaps even libelous.

In a recent column, we noted that an indication of the increasing lack of civility in public discourse was evidenced by newspapers suspending for a period of time or even completely shutting down the ability to post comments to stories published on their websites.

This trend seems to be on the upswing. For example, the Daytona Beach, Fla., News-Journal recently eliminated the ability to post anonymous comments to stories published online. In the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted that this columnist once worked for the News-Journal, albeit long before the advent of the Internet.

In a notice to readers, Executive Editor Pat Rice wrote, “The News-Journal reached this decision after significant feedback from readers who expressed concern that online comments too often are mean-spirited, or state facts inaccurately or degenerate into arguments between those leaving comments that have nothing to do with the stories under which they are posted.”

He also cited the fact that the posting of anonymous comments conflicts with good journalistic practices, including not publishing unsigned letters to the editor.

In addition, the American Journalism Review now is calling for news sites to stop allowing anonymous online comments.

Rem Rieder, American Journalism Review editor and senior vice president, writes in the current issue: “One good reason to end the practice of allowing unnamed comments is that it’s flat-out wrong.”

The Call also urges legitimate news publications to stop the practice of allowing anonymous comments to be posted on their websites.

Leave anonymous comments to the disreputable bloggers who seldom get much right anyway and whose sole purpose in blogging is to stroke their overinflated egos.