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We Need Online Rules

another voice of reason on the “wild,wild west” online public comment….unsigned..anonymous posters… dilemma

Edward Wasserman…[email protected]….who is a Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University.

He writes about Editors of papers who would never dream of running an un-signed letter-to the- editor….now argue for promiscuous anonymity.

At an American Society of Newspapers Editors workshop…that restraint of any kind would be ruinous to newspapers online strategies…

The Organization of News Ombudsmen…has an email thread soliciting input on how news organizations could better handle public comments…is it OK to block anti- immigrant rants, to weed out defamation, protect privacy and  to enforce some standars of reasonable expression?

What about unsigned comment?

in conclusion….Those message boards and chat rooms aren’t just market extension opportunities for media owners. They’re warm and busy spaces where the new world of expressions and communication is incubating.

To say there should be rules, that communicants should be admonished to strive for honesty and civility and respect, is not to justify elitism. It’s not even to prescribe the rules. But it’s acknowledge that rules are needed, and to kick off the process of writing them.

Thank you Professor Wasserman.

link to read it all.


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