How different today’s news business has become. In the days of print newspapers, public comment via letters to the editor or editorials would not be considered for publication unless the author submitted his name, full address and phone number. If your letter or article was chosen to be printed, someone from the newspaper called to verify your personal information.
For online news sites, comments can be made by real people or by people hiding behind anonymous screen names. Except for persons afraid of retribution in the work place, I cannot understand why someone feels compelled to write comments under an assumed identity.
About a week ago, the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins in an ice hockey playoff. Following the game, racially offensive anonymous comments were made on Twitter by persons hiding behind a screen names. The remarks were directed at the only black hockey player on the Capitals hockey team, Joel Ward, who scored the game-winning goal. To its credit, Twitter unmasked the persons who made the comments.
Recently, I wrote a blog for the Towson Patch about why I had changed my mind and now think the school board in Baltimore County should be elected not appointed. Almost immediately a blog comment appeared from “Ron Burgundy.” FYI-“Ron Burgundy” was Will Ferrell's character in the film "Anchorman."
That “Ron Burgundy” comment clearly intended to attack/demean me personally as opposed to attacking what I wrote.
A day passed and some more comments followed my blog piece.
I was away from my computer for about a day. I got an email on Saturday from the Towson Patch alerting me to several other comments on my School Board blog. One was from “Ron Burgundy.” It was the comment following the “Ron Burgundy” comment that let me figure out who “Ron Burgundy” really is.
In my opinion (and that of lots of other people who I have talked to), “Ron Burgundy” is a high ranking Baltimore County government employee/appointee who used to be a Baltimore County Public School employee.
I am hopeful that online news sites will evolve to a level where anonymous screen names are phased out and written words will only be published if the author’s verified name precedes the comment. Until then I guess I will keep a “stiff upper lip.”