Newspaper “Outs” Anonymous Forum Poster

I really don’t see the point in ‘outing‘ the identity of a poster in any forum on any topic when that forum permits the use of an alias. Use of an alias offers an anonymous opinion, which is just that, an opinion. Forums are meant to encourage dialog and the forum is where that dialog belongs, with one possible exception below.

IMHO, there is only one exception, and that is if any laws are broken, then the authorities (that wouldn’t be the newspaper) should be notified. Then, the newspaper has an obligation to report whatever ‘news’ is generated by the authorities. That’s journalism. This forum flap is not journalism. Despite what Pensacola News Journal editor Richard A. Schneider says . . .

You have the right to know that and we have the obligation to tell you.

I couldn’t disagree more. In the context of anonymous posting, should the newspaper take on the role of bully toward posters who they don’t particularly like or who carry some amount of notoriety or their occupation? Should they publish the poster’s email address? Of course not. If an editor has something to say about a post, the forum is the place to respond, with or without an alias. To strip the anonymity and take it to the editorial page where the unwashed might see a huge and (to borrow a recently overused word) “phony” scandal is something more than irresponsible.

If you want to stifle debate then change the rules to not allow aliases. It certainly will trim the tripe.

The irony of a newspaper (which has special first amendment protection) actively attacking free speech might be considered an abuse of that protection, and is just a bit hypocritical if not unethical in an of itself.

Pensacola News Journal: Paper holds officials accountable, even Godzilla

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