During the past several months we have shared our views regarding the lack of validity of anonymous commenting by those who hide behind screen names while spewing their venom.
Now, we are taking steps to curtail what is often vile and sometimes rises to the level of being legally libelous.
When people can cloak themselves they tend to say things they would not dare say in public.
We believe elected officials should be held accountable.
We strongly believe that citizens should speak their mind.
We believe that an open free forum is critical to freedom itself.
We staunchly defend the First Amendment.
We encourage all our readers, both in print and online, to “discuss” articles on the website and to send us letters to the editor for publication.
Ironically, it has been suggested the elimination of anonymous commenting is an act of cowardice on the part of the newspaper.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Which takes more courage, taking ownership of your own words, signing your name, speaking out openly about public policy or hiding behind a screen name and taking cheap shots?
We sign our editorials.
Reporters attach their names to the news articles they write.
People in the community send us letters to the editor, often about controversial topics and they sign their real names and provide verification information.
This is not to say there is not some merit in some comments made anonymously.
However, even the insightful comments are somewhat compromised when you do not know the source.
Furthermore, when comments are totally anonymous they can amount to little more than hearsay or gossip.
Too often, the blind comments turn into personal attacks, assaults on character or just plain stupid accusations.
Now readers will still be able to comment on news articles, columns and editorials that appear at www.news-daily.com.
However, in order to do so they will need to access the commenting section through their Facebook account.
The process is not arduous and those who already use the commenting section of our website will find the new system will be rather self-explanatory once they click on the “discuss” option.
It is rather seamless.
Yes, we know the system is not fail safe.
We also know it is better than the completely unfettered system that newspapers across the country are now abandoning.
In some ways, that is a piece of irony because it seems the more we tinker with the bells and whistles of new media, the more we gravitate back to the core principles of solid journalism and traditional values of credible newspapers.
— Editor Jim Zachary