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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



Wildcat columnists sound off on new Wildcat online commenting policy, which requires commentators to register before leaving comments on articles

Today, not allowing comments; tomorrow, not allowing dissent

Back in the olden days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and printed newspapers were the only form of journalism, no one could have imagined that commenting anonymously on a column or article with which you disagree would take so little time and effort. But actual, physical evening papers and hand-written letters to the editor have changed, and we have a duty to evolve along with them.

The issue of whether to allow anonymous comments on the Web site of a university newspaper should really be one of convenience and efficiency. Busy students should not have to remember yet another log-in and password just to write, “”Hey, nice article,”” or “”Maybe you could have researched this issue a little more.””

The log-in process may filter out the more incendiary personal attacks, but it also deters the intelligent rejoinders. By the time you remember the correct email/password combination of the millions you have registered for various web applications, you’ve probably forgotten what you had to say in the first place. The old forum, which included a field for name, email, comment and verification code, allowed busy students to register an opinion efficiently. As the largest student-run forum of conversation at the UA, the Daily Wildcat should make the discussion of news and events as quick and easy as possible.

It is true that personal attacks on an author of an article accomplish little, but they are also quite rare. Censoring all comments from those who would rather not take the time to register or prefer to leave a false name does much more harm to a journalist than any puerile name-calling could. If people don’t comment, we can’t know what is important to them. As a student journalist, one must be willing to take the flattering letters from aged alumni along with the not as articulate, yet still valid criticism from a fellow student who chooses to call himself “”GoCats834.””

Suppressing discourse does not stop the sentiment behind whatever the commenters might have wanted to say, it just means we hear less about what people think. A reader may have opinions that counter a columnist’s opinion that he or she might not want to attach his or her name to for personal or even political reasons. They should be afforded the privilege of posting their comments anonymously in the new incarnation of media.

As the supposed voice of the students, we want, we need, to hear what the students are thinking, whether or not those students want to leave a name, email and full mailing address. The students who prefer to comment anonymously should be afforded that right. They are not the journalists, after all. We are.

The core of this issue that should leave no question in the minds of any journalist or consumer of news, is how close it comes to suppressing freedom of speech. If anonymous dissenting comments are not allowed today, the day when dissent is not allowed at all seems much too close for comfort.

— Anna Swenson in a sophomore majoring in English. She can be reached


New policy promotes smarter dialogue

The Wildcat columnists probably receive the most online criticism from commentators than any other writers on staff. Opinions excite people in all meanings of the word, and if a columnist covers a controversial issue or stands by a rejected idea, he may never hear the end of it.

While I agree that the new commenting policy may discourage readers from giving the writers more constructive feedback and criticism, I also feel that some of the commentators can be outrageous and extremely unconstructive at times, and that helps no one.

When someone says something along the lines of, “”this author is a complete idiot, he should be fired,”” nothing has been accomplished. The anonymous commentator said nothing of substance and resorted to personal attacks. Many of these readers don’t know how to differentiate between the columnist and the column itself, so the responses promote a negative, unintelligent atmosphere.

The Wildcat does not aim to suppress anyone, but if a commentator just seeks to embarrass an author, he should at least take the time to register his name and email address with the Web site. That way, people will see that this commentator has taken the time to legitimize his name and maybe they’ll actually take the comment seriously. But, if this commentator doesn’t want to take the extra two minutes to sign up online, he obviously doesn’t care enough about creating a smart dialogue.

Anyone can still comment on the online articles. It’s slightly harder to leave a response, but it’s not impossible, and I hope that this new process will encourage thoughtful messages and discussion. I’ll even respect the rabid commentators more if they go the extra mile to register their contact information on the Wildcat Web site.

— Laura Donovan is the opinions editor. She can be reached at

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