The participatory model of journalism is one of the more interesting experiments taking place in news these days. But it’s got a downside. Adam Gaffin posts this item about the comments sections being shut down at three local GateHouse weeklies — the Somerville Journal, the Swampscott Reporter and, now, the Cambridge Chronicle.
It’s a shame, but I’m not surprised. Sooner rather than later, news orgs are going to have to move away from allowing anonymous and pseudonymous comments and instead require people to post under their real names. Right now, no editor dares to take that step on the theory that the comments will disappear. But it has to happen.
Busy editors and reporters don’t have time to monitor every anonymous comment as it comes in. This isn’t about technology; it’s about common sense. Letters to the editor are rarely published without the writer’s name attached. If anything, online comments, which are posted automatically and without editing, ought to be held to a higher standard.