Requiring ID on web comments | Editorial
November 11, 2011 · 12:28 PM
The North Kitsap Herald, as do most newspapers, have a long-running and simple rule for submitting letters to the editor — sign your name.
It’s a good rule. We have a constitutional right to speak freely, but we should be willing to stand by what we say.
For several years, the Herald has allowed readers to post comments on our online stories. We did this to encourage a free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect. While some readers used this tool as a way of contributing to community dialogue, many more used the cloak of anonymity to be abusive or goading.
So, how do we allow readers to comment on stories, but with the same standards to which we are accustomed with printed letters to the editor? We have a solution.
Beginning Nov. 17, the Herald will switch from Disqus to Facebook for reader comments. Online readers will be able to write comments at the end of a story, but they’ll have to have a personal Facebook account to do so.
This arrangement brings the open dialogue of a major social networking site to our online news site.
We will also begin restricting comments on stories about personal tragedies.
Reporters are held to the same standards as letter writers. Reporters take credit for their work with a byline. A byline ensures readers that the story is written as objectively as possible. Likewise with letters and community posts. Anonymity reduces accountability. Being in the open helps keep the conversation honest.
We are confident that this change will encourage the free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect. Let us know what you think. Write Editor, The Herald, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, Wa. 98370. Or write firstname.lastname@example.org.