Azcentral.com, the online site for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, has stopped letting citizens comment anonymously on its site.
“In the early days (just a few years ago) of online commenting, I embraced the Wild West freedom that the tools provided in allowing citizens to speak freely about their ideas,” explained Randy Lovely, senior vice president of news and audience development for The Republic.
“Over time, my sentiments have changed as the tone and civility of the anonymous remarks have soured. I still defend your right to express your opinion, but, unfortunately, I don’t know who you are,” Lovely wrote in his posting on azcentral that announced the change.
He said the azcentral staff hope the change, which now requires citizens to comment through their personal Facebook accounts, will lead to an increase in civility and encourage more people to join the conversation.
You’ve got to love the conclusion of his piece: “If you believe strongly enough about something to comment on it, be brave enough to own your comment.
“Still, I may not agree with you, but I defend your right to express your opinion — if you’re willing to stand up and be counted.”
You can read Lovely’s entire piece at http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/11/30/20111130lovely1201-bar-raised-comments-azcentral.html#ixzz1fPL2dkOv
Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/)