Monday September 01, 2014

OK, everybody — we’re listening

Well, The Daily News’s online community has spoken.

Clearly, The Daily News’s recent decision to close comments on letters to the editor posted on our website was, to put it mildly, not well received.

Commenters made it abundantly clear they felt the decision was heavy-handed and needlessly cut off a vibrant and important source of discussion about issues important to the community.  The outcry even sparked an admirable attempt (and I do mean attempt) at protest poetry (see the comments).

An online poll on The Daily News’s website also showed strong opposition to the decision to close comments to letters to editor. As a result of all the above, as soon as we can technically make it happen, online comments will be restored to letters to the editor. Merry Christmas.

The Daily News remains concerned however, about the disparity in treatment between how we handle letters to the editor in the printed paper and online commenting. We require letters writers to sign their submissions, while online comments can be made anonymously.

With that in mind, The Daily News will change its letter policy and allow individuals to request their names be withheld from letters posted online. Letters to the editor printed in the newspaper will still require a name in to be published but that same letter — when published to the much broader internet community — can be published anonymously, if the author makes the request.

We appreciate the comments and concerns expressed by our online readers for the loss of a feature they valued. Publishing a newspaper, either online or in print, must always be an endeavour that reflects the needs and wants of readers, and we’re prepared to admit we don’t always get it exactly right. We try, however, and we’re always prepared to listen.

In this instance, we hope our revised-revised policy will satisfy all those who want to express themselves online, while respecting that some letter writers feel it is unfair they are held to a different standard.

Expect to see comments restored in the next day or two.

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