Readers will need Facebook account to comment online | Editorial
By ANDY HOBBS
Federal Way Mirror Editor
November 13, 2011 · Updated 3:35 PM
Starting Nov. 17, the Federal Way Mirror will require a Facebook account to post online comments.
The news industry is moving away from anonymous commenting, and The Mirror (along with parent company Sound Publishing) is proud to be in the vanguard.
It’s not an endorsement of Facebook per se, but at the present time, Facebook’s comment system offers the best way to ensure an environment of decorum and mutual respect among readers who participate on our website. Facebook requires its nearly 800 million users worldwide to register under a real identity. The Mirror believes this new partnership is ultimately good for both our business and the community.
Many prominent media outlets, including the LA Times, Seattlepi.com and San Diego Union Tribune, are utilizing Facebook for comments. An editor at the San Diego paper said online dialogue “has been deeper, more relevant and more interesting” and features less childish name-calling and hurtful racism.
The switch to Facebook for online comments also brings The Mirror’s website more in tune with our print edition policies. The best part about letters printed in The Mirror, and any other newspaper for that matter, is that the letters are signed. Whether you agree or disagree with a letter writer’s opinion, the writer’s name accompanies each letter in print.
This standard procedure encourages more thoughtful discourse while reducing sarcasm and cheap shots.
Indeed, the promise of anonymity has generated feedback from readers who otherwise stay in the woodwork. Anonymity grants readers another outlet for their opinions, with the option of creating an alternate identity to suit an alter-ego.
However, anonymity cheapens the credibility of an online comment, and even encourages commenters to amplify their vitriol because they can get away with it.
Online readers without a Facebook account who wish to comment on stories may still write letters to the editor.
Regardless of your preference, consider that anything worth reading is also worth signing. Anonymity lends itself to entertaining banter, but at the cost of not being taken as seriously. After all, if a message is not worth standing behind, then what is it worth in the first place?
Contact Federal Way Mirror Editor Andy Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-253-925-5565 (ext 5050).