A reader made objections to me today about The Star's policy not to publish anonymous letters to the editor.
"I don't see why I should be forbidden from sending in 'name withheld by request' letters. After all, that's the same thing the editorial board does with what it writes on the same page."
I get his point, though I'm not sure I agree that's a very good parallel. The editorials are written by one or more members of the editorial board, to reflect the group's consensus view. All members are named on the masthead, and the board will always divulge who did the writing if the question is posed.
So that's not quite the same thing -- but I do think the request for anonymous letters is a fair one. And while the Opinion department asks for a phone number and address for verification purposes, I'm sure some letter-writers use false information there. The directory-free world of cell phones has made it much harder for anyone to get outside verification of who owns a phone number these days.
Not allowing anonymous letters has several upsides to me, especially in keeping people with vested interests in a topic from concealing that information. Do you think newspaper companies should give in to this frequent request, or do you like the requirement for writers to put their names on their opinions?