by Cathy Resmer
Here's a story from today's Washington Post about Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and blogger for the LA Times. Howard Kurtz writes that Hiltzik's blog was suspended when editors discovered that he had been posting comments to other blogs using fake names.
Hiltzik has apparently been sniping at conservative bloggers like Hugh Hewitt anonymously, and the LAT says that's a violation of its policy for reporters and editors to "identify themselves when dealing with the public." They're investigating the matter.
Hiltzik hasn't denied that he's been an anonymous troll. Before the editors suspended his blog, he wrote a response to one of the convervatives who complained about him:
"This is amusing, because most of the comments posted on his websiteare anonymous or pseudonymous. . . . Anonymity for commenters is afeature of his blog, as it is of mine. It's a feature that he canwithdraw from his public any time he wishes. He has chosen to do thatin one case only, and we might properly ask why. The answer is thathe's ticked off that someone would disagree with him."
Well, maybe. But my gut reaction to this is that he shouldn't have been commenting anonymously. Anonymous commenters get to side-step responsibility for their remarks, and generally tend to dillute the conversation. People feel much freer to unleash their spiteful sides anonymously, and that's not really productive. Look no further than this thread about that Explore New England blogger plagiarist for evidence. I say responsible bloggers and journalists need to set high standards for themselves if they want to be taken seriously as sources of reliable information.