EDITOR’S NOTE: The practice of commenting on stories and columns on the Imperial Valley Press Web site, www.ivpressonline.com, came to an early close last week after several of those posting turned the space into a format for bullying, insults and innuendo. While this newspaper normally does not publish letters written anonymously on the Opinion page, we chose to break our own rule today.
By ANONYMOUS CITIZEN
As of today (March 28, 2012), the Imperial Valley Press has stopped letting people comment on their editorial decision and story to end all public commenting on IVP stories, even though they stated that the last day would be April 1.
This decision has generated a great amount of controversy among online readers and 157 postings were recorded before IVP pulled the plug today. I myself have evidently been permanently banned by (Misters) Delaney and Brown as none of the comments I attempted to post today regarding this early cutoff were accepted.
It should not sadden us, but rather frighten us that the IVP does not respect the right of anonymity for people who wish to speak up about wrongdoing or corruption without fear of reprisal. It is disheartening that the IVP would place the interest of its revenue stream from local politicians, boards and businesses above the truth and accountability that the public demands.
After all, without anonymity, there probably would have been no “Deep Throat” or other “anonymous sources” to expose Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, Whitewater, Travelgate, etc.
Without anonymity, there probably would have never been a Bill of Rights in our Constitution.
The Anti-Federalist Papers written by anonymous sources in 1787 were published partly in response to the authors concerns that the original Constitution contained no provision for a bill of rights. Writing under names such as “Cato,” “Brutus,” etc., these authors by anonymity gave voice to “we the people” to ensure that we all have a bill of rights.
One purported author of some of these articles is Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty, or give me death”).
This is indeed a sad day in our local community when the public is no longer allowed to speak out without fear of retaliation in order to see the truth come to the light of day.
Shame on IVP. This new direction taken by IVP is reminiscent of the Pravda news of the former Soviet Union.
Indeed, Stalin, Hitler, Goebbels would all be proud as they clearly understood that if you controlled the news, you control the masses.
By GERARD DELANEY
Today we are moving the commenting section of our Web site to our Facebook page. This will still allow those who wish to comment on stories or editorial items the freedom to express their views and help with constructive dialog to further enhance a story.
While this may seem to most as an insignificant change, to some it seems to be analogous to end of freedom. Why? Because they will no longer be provided the veil of anonymity that they so treasure.
We knew to those few hardcore posters this would come as a blow. We tried to work with them to clean up their vicious personal and often libelous attacks. We wrote letters directly to them, we wrote Op/Ed pieces to ask for civility only to be met with increasing hostility with each attempt.
In our position as newspaper people we have thick skins and can take the barbs, but when they attack innocent children for being overweight or for the color of their skin, we draw the line. Banning did not suffice since they just popped up under another assumed name.
True there were 157 posts on the story announcing the change, but the vast majority came from 10 posters, the same 10 who attack anyone with an opposing view. (I use the word “attack,” not “engage.”)
I would advise you to go look at the comments for yourself and see if there is any redeeming value to the conversation. We pulled the most vile comments but allowed posters to vent for three days before finally closing down the story.
Unfortunately, this forum never lived up to intended purpose to fight corruption nor right wrongdoing. It was used to advance personal agenda without accountability.
Anonymity affords people liberty to distort facts to their needs, to be vicious precisely because they do not fear reprisal. Rather than being the promoter of free speech they suppressed it by keeping people with opposing viewpoints off our Web site.
We are frequently approached by people with whistle-blowing information who request anonymity, which we gladly supply. These sources have access to verifiable facts, not rumor and innuendo from some unknown source with a not-so-hidden agenda. Deep Throat had to earn Woodward’s and Bernstein’s trust before they investigated Watergate. They did not receive an unsigned note that unraveled a presidency.
To take a stand for civility and against online bullying is not something to be ashamed of, as the writer of the letter would imply. To the contrary, the country is fed up with bullying, which most recently has moved from the playground to the Internet.
We are proud to take a stand.
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