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September 5, 2008 - Pat Beck
On February 12th the new Leader-Herald website debuted. One of the new features was the ability for readers to comment on stories and other areas of the on-line paper. As of today, we have 2,329 individuals who are registered to participate in this feature. As of today we have received a total of 23,021 comments. That is tremendous. We are very pleased to see that, for the most part, readers have taken on the ownership of what is happening in the area and beyond to express their opinions and solutions through this avenue. We have only had a very small percentage of abusers on the site and unfortunately have taken away their privileges. Of course, it is not full proof, or may I say fool proof, and some have managed to return under another name. There are some areas of the on-line paper that we do not allow comments on. Obituaries being one. As of today, I have also made the decision to exclude comments on the letters to the editors. The reason is simple. When a person submits a letter to the editor expressing his or her opinion they must have their name published. All letters submitted to the newspaper are verified before they are published. When a person writes an opinion letter to the newspaper they are subjecting themselves to others who either agree fully or disagree adamantly. Many times we have printed a rebuttal, an agreement or another vision of a subject. These letters are also signed, verified and identified in the newspaper. Giving readers the opportunity to respond to the letters to the editor on line, simply, is not fair. An individual should not be subjected to name calling by those anonymous posters who feel it is necessary to go to that level to make a point. I have asked myself the question over and over “would this person be writing this if they had to have their name published”, I always come up with the same answer:” I doubt it very much.” News stories, features, polls, sports, special sections and all editorial will continue to be open to all comments but letters to the editor, will not. This newspaper has taken pride in the number of letters that we receive on any given day from people who believe in a cause, have experienced an injustice or want to express gratitude. That is the truest sense and pulse of a community newspaper.
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