Submit a letter to the editor at the Staunton News Leader ... and you are expected to sign your name and provide contact information -- address and phone number -- so the editorial staff can check the legitimacy of the letter.
The NL publishes your letter ... and then you are subjected to their online trolls. Anyone can post a comment criticizing or praising the letter ... but, unfortunately, more often than not the commenters are criticizing the letter writer. Inaccurate information, foul language, and just plain garbage is allowed to pass through unchecked for anyone to read. Possible slander? Innuendo? Character assassination? It all happens at the News Leader's online opinion section. Their credibility in the community has slipped to abysmal depths.
As a result most conservative commenters have stopped posting to the NL because they were verbally ripped to shreds by anonymous trolls who, in typical cowardly fashion, hid behind their anonymous facades to write something they probably would not say if identified.
Here is a suggestion to the NL: start holding your online commenters accountable just as you do the letter writers. Require a name, address, and phone number ... and then contact them to verify their message before allowing the post to appear.
Time consuming? Yes. But the return would be a more balanced comment page and, perhaps, the possibility of more folks being willing to pen a letter to the editor. As of now it's open season on anyone who dares to write and take a chance on running the troll gauntlet of anonymous commenters waiting for the next victim.