Online credibility

Toronto Star public editor Kathy English wrote of the Toronto Star‘s recent move to axe pseudonymous online comments alongside signed letters in its online Web Forum:

“I would prefer the Star demand real names of those who comment online. I’ve been told that’s a near-impossible expectation in the online environment. I don’t buy that.

“I understand that in this challenging era of evolution in journalism, the Star must embrace the possibilities of the Internet. But we must aim to do so in a manner consistent with this newspaper’s long-standing commitment to ethical journalism you can trust.”

I agree with English. Reputation and credibility are, when all is said and done, all that professional journalism has to offer in a world awash with infotainment and misinformation. The deluge of online commentary by anonymous anybodies (with their weirdly juvenile affinity for potty jokes and below-the-belt blows that would be libelous in any other publishing environment) have no place in ethical, accountable, credible journalism.