Anonymity And Identity In News Media: What? Why? Who?

March 22nd, 2010 by bruno boutot
@mathewi I agree about persistent identity. I agree that hosts getting involved is key. And I think that anonymity has become a big problem. #

This is good news. #

  • there can be several degrees of identity, either decided by the site or by the member,
  • and these different degrees can vary from one context to another, on the same site.
What is clear here, and what must be stated from the start, is that this discussion is about reader participation in online news media. The rules could be (and are) different in other kinds of communities. #

we *allow* people to comment on *our* work when it is *done.* insulting #

People familiar with his blog and his book What Would Google Do? know exactly what he means: that readers should be involved in the whole news process, from choosing the topic to participating in research to commenting, to adding information and following up. #

I believe that one of the principles of running a media site is that you should open up interaction to as many people as possible. #

I see two points here. The first is that I agree with Mathew that involvement should be progressive. If the objective is participation, we have to offer a scale of participation from the most simple involvement (anonymous voting as in The Huffington Post, for example), to full identity with access to all past contributions (as for Mathew Haughey in MetaFilter, for example). #

“Give the people control of media, they will use it. The corollary: Don’t give the people control of media, and you will lose.” #

If you read Steve Buttry and Jeff Jarvis, you know that the only way for news media to survive and prosper on the Web is through the participation of our communities. #

MODERATORS SHOULD NEVER BE ANONYMOUS! #

I am surprised when I visit the greatest news media in the world (at least in New-York, Montreal, London, Paris) and not only moderators are anonymous but some of these media outsource moderation! I know: it goes hand in hand with the idea that moderation is akin to police duty. #

bruno boutot

Statégies de médias sur le Web: médias sociaux, communautés, commerce #

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8 Responses to “Anonymity And Identity In News Media: What? Why? Who?”

  1. stevebuttry Says:

    Excellent Qs & As in the anonymity-identity discussion from @brunoboutot: What? Why? Who? http://bit.ly/9Ch6WZ

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. themedia Says:

    A wonderful post to consult when you think of questions of anonymity and identity on media sites: http://bit.ly/bnmcyG

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Jeremy Zilar Says:

    At Danah Boyd’s keynote presentation at SXSW this year, she brought up a good point about a user’s notion of privacy (which is similar but not the same as anonymity). Danah roughly said,
    Privacy is letting your users have control of how they engage with you.

    I thought that was an interesting point to bring up.
    Great post. I am sure to use this as a reference.

  4. brunoboutot Says:

    Thanks, Jeremy, this is great.
    I had bookmarked danah’s talk but hadn’t taken the time to read it.
    I will, now.
    “Letting your users have control of how they engage with you” is a great policy statement for welcoming people in.

  5. Chronotope Says:

    Anonymity And Identity In News Media: What? Why? Who? http://ff.im/-i8enZ

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  6. This Week in Review: Anonymous news comments, two big media law cases, and a health coverage critique » Nieman Journalism Lab Says:

    [...] and news futurist Jeff Jarvis and French journalist Bruno Boutot zoom out on the issue a bit, with Jarvis arguing that commenting is an insulting, inferior form of [...]

  7. brunoboutot Says:

    Here is the complete quote from the above Nieman Lab weekly round up:

    J-prof and news futurist Jeff Jarvis and French journalist Bruno Boutot zoom out on the issue a bit, with Jarvis arguing that commenting is an insulting, inferior form of communication for news organizations to offer, and they should instead initiate more interactive, empowering communication earlier in the journalistic process. Boutot builds on that to say that newspapers need to invite readers into the process to build trust and survive, and outlines a limited place for anonymity in that goal.

    A few precisions:
    - I don’t think Jarvis is a “news futurist”. I think he is a “news realist”. It’s an important nuance because I believe that news media that don’t get the urgency of Jarvis’ observations will die. The time to host communities in news media on the Web is right now: this opportunity will be seized by mainstream media or by newcomers, then it will be too late.
    - without presuming what Jarvis himself meant by “insulting” about comments, my understanding is not that “comments are insulting” but that “reducing readers’ input to comments is insulting”.
    - on a personal note, while it can be said that I am French (I was born in France), I have worked as a journalist, in French, in Montreal for the past 32 years; so I am more Canadian or Quebecois but if you ask me, I am a journalist from Montreal. :-)

  8. This Week in Review: Anonymous news comments, two big media law cases, and a health coverage critique | Mark Coddington Says:

    [...] and news futurist Jeff Jarvis and French journalist Bruno Boutot zoom out on the issue a bit, with Jarvis arguing that commenting is an insulting, inferior form of [...]

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