I was pondering this question because I was struck recently by the difference in quality in a couple of recent Herald editorials. This one was an utter disgrace, cheering on Paula Bennett for (as seems almost certain) breaking the law. On the other hand this one is very good, stressing the need for action on climate change and (timidly) trying to give our pathetic government a hurry up on this vital issue.
I’ll bet you a dollar that those two editorials were written by different people, but we don’t know, because they are anonymous. I obviously in favour of protecting one’s real world identity (makes sense in this world where there are plenty of crazies about, and where apparently anyone can be Bennetted with impunity). But I have been convinced that opinion pieces should be at least pseudonymous (signed with a consistent handle / “pen name”) so that an impression of an author’s work as whole can be established. Anonymous Herald editorials don’t even give us that, which is particularly interesting given the way that old media likes to occasionally lash out at the supposed inadequacies of blogs.
There’s a real double standard here. For example, I was recently contacted (via The Standard) by a newspaper editor wanting to use one of my recent posts in a regular feature about blogs. The deal fell through (as we like to say in showbiz) because the editor required a “real name” to sign the post, and I choose to remain pseudonymous. But that same paper regularly publishes anonymous editorials. Hmmmmm.
Well anyway, back to the question I started with. What is the difference between a newspaper editorial and a post on a popular political blog?