Monday, May 21, 2007

The great anonymity debate rages on

Since Tony Messenger took over as editorial page editor for the Springfield News-Leader, he has succeeded in his task of turning the News-Leader opinion section into a well-rounded forum of ideas.
He certainly started a wide-ranging online discussion today with an editorial on anonymous bloggers:

But too much of the conversation going on in the "blogosphere" is anonymous, and we want to do our part to put an end to that.

The fact is that the best blogs in Springfield and Missouri have names attached to them.

That certainly got the ball rolling, with everyone from Fired Up Missouri, much of which is written anonymously, to Ron Davis' Chatter, which obviously is not, to Rhetorica, and several others.
Jason Rosenbaum's offers a wide-ranging summary of the bloggers' opinions on his Columbia Tribune Political Blog.

So I might as well throw in my own two cents' worth. While I definitely appreciate the kind words Tony Messenger wrote about The Turner Report in the editorial, I do not have a problem with an anonymously-written blog. It does not take long to determine if a blog is worth reading. If the writer is unreliable or has nothing to say, odds are he or she will not develop a following in the blogosphere.

What does bother me are anonymous blogs and comments that do nothing but attack and belittle people and add nothing to the discussion. Some of the best bloggers are anonymous and some of the best comments on blogs are anonymous. At the same time, anonymity has a tendency to bring out snakes who attack anyone whose opinion differs from their own. Anonymity grants a false courage to namecallers, bigots, and people whose greatest pleasure in life comes from tearing down others.

Unfortunately, those kind of people,whether they are blogging or commenting, are the people who give blogs a bad name.


Anonymous said...

I want everyone to know who I am.

Anonymous said...

The level of political discourse has never been on a high level, no matter the time period. We fool ourselves into thinking that has even been the case - and anyone who actually spends time reading the Founding Fathers knows just how nasty those arguments were.

The reader is the only person really capable of determining the authenticity of a blogger, anonymous or not.

Still - part of the game is unmasking those who are dishonest - and the anonymous have a burden of proof higher than someone willing to put their name out in front of their words.

If they want a voice with impact, they do. If they are just chatting away, well then who cares? But when they are affecting the tone and tenor of the news, anonymity should no longer be a veil.

Anonymous blogs have their place, but expectations of news media coverage aren't exactly a first amendment right. At least not yet.

Anonymous said...

Huh? What was that again. Would you please repeat that. I didn't understand a word of what you wrote, Mr. Durbin.

Anonymous said...

It just seems amusing to me that Turner is so frustrated with people expressing their opinions against what he writes that he continually attacks many of those people, all the while condemning the practice on this blog. It seems to be his desperate hope that he can "bully" other people into disclosing their name. He continually says that he is all for anonymity.......until someone has harsh criticism for him; then these people are cowards. The poor, confused old man cannot make up his mind. Just watch his response to this comment that called him on this.

Randy said...

My position has always been consistent- I have no problem with people posting anonymously whether their opinions agree with mine or not. My problem comes with the people who do not understand the difference between disagreeing with someone and attacking someone personally. And those people invariably do not sign their names.