The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, MA announced today that that it is charging a fee of 99 cents to post a comment on a story, according to an article in editorandpublisher.com. The stated purpose is to police comments. I can certainly understand this action given some of the asinine reaction comments to just about any article in an online edition of the newspaper. Spam messages also have a way of getting into the comments section. It seems to occur mostly in daily newspapers.
I checked the Sun Chronicle’s Web site and learned that the 99 cents is apparently a one-time registration fee. Also, commenters must use their real names. This is just another example of what happens when people abuse a system. I would not mind seeing all newspapers go to requiring real names of commenters. That’s the same policy as a letter to the editor. I’m all for free speech, but I’m also for responsible speech. This policy seems to accommodate both.