October 6, 2010 An Open Letter to Richard L. Connor Editor and Publisher MaineToday Media Inc.

(Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram) Dear Mr. Connor: You owe it to the community your newspapers serve to insist that online comments be signed using contributors' real names and places of residence. Your editors verify the authorship of letters published in hard copy editions of the paper. Your policies in this regard are so rigorous that when an editor called the phone number listed on a letter I submitted, my wife's confirmation that I was the author was insufficient and I had to call the paper myself. There are both practical and ethical reasons to align your online policies with those that apply to printed newspapers. The current policy allows people to lower the tone of political discourse and cheapens the value of more thoughtful expression by association. It is impossible to know whether the opinions expressed are those of Maine readers with a vested interest in what you print or whether they are churned out by political operatives whose agenda is to influence public opinion on behalf of people or organizations with a partisan agenda. It is wildly inconsistent to have one set of rules for print and another for electronic media. There are many ways for people to express their opinions pseudonymously ² blogs, social networking sites and the like ² so you can hardly be accused of infringing their right to free speech. You apparently reserve the right to remove offensive posts, so why not take your oversight one step farther? Most compelling, however, anonymity and pseudonymity encourage cowardice. Cleverdav, David, Eiron, Gary, Hal, Letitride, markbets, mohonk, mutt, Sam, Sam4, ScotsIrish, SoPoDad, ThorEau, windjammer, wmweber ² to list only a handful correspondents in today's Portland Press Herald ² may have convictions, but they do not have the courage of their convictions. Margaret Chase Smith got the balance right when she wrote ³Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk.´ Let your readers say what they want, but make them do it responsibly. Sincerely,

Lincoln Paine Portland, Maine

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