I certainly agree that there is no justification for using anonymity on the internet or anywhere else to conceal an identity with intent to abuse or harass for racialist or other deviant purposes. However, in reality for most paid journalists (admittedly not those at The Economist) their non-anonymity, that is to say their byline, is a key part of their being able to make a living. Many have embraced social networks like Twitter with enthusiasm, and seem pleased to have as many followers as possible who will dutifully click on the links they provide to their latest pieces. Of course, the more hits the better for both William Boot and BeastOnline.co.uk, and today’s Lord Coppers will probably be taking an interest in the amount of traffic generated.
For even a moderately successful professional journalist, the existence of an established byline will affect their self-presentation in everyday life. Family, friends and the people they encounter from their GP to the technician who comes to mend the central heating, depending on their place in the market know what they do and why, and may even choose to engage them about it. This might be a little tedious at times, but is surely an acceptable price to pay for even a small degree of public recognition and being one of the relatively few who are famous for more than fifteen minutes.
I do what I do here to amuse myself while avoiding disruption of normal relationships with people who know me. If a few of these posts are of interest to anyone out there, so much the better. A cynic might say that a blogger is someone who is indulging in vanity publishing but is too mean to pay for it. On the other hand, I earn nothing from writing this blog and I don’t think it unreasonable to want to retain some of the privacy which a paid journalist inevitably foregoes.
(Above: Man Writing by Jacobus Josefus Eeckhout undated, Southampton City Art Gallery)