Friday, 8 January 2016

Freedom of expression comes with responsibilities

By Cleland Thom

People on our writing courses often ask if they can use a pseudonym.

It's a personal decision. Occasionally, people have to use them for security issues.

Personally, I don't like them. Would you trust a decorator who wouldn't give you his real name?

Writing is a part of freedom of expression - a precious right that is easily taken for granted. But it comes with responsibilities.

If we want people to read our work, we should allow them to know who wrote it. Otherwise, what's the point?

I put my name to everything I write. And with a name like mine, there's nowhere to hide. There's only one Cleland Thom in the world, and that's me!

Students doing our online writing courses know that I always blog under my real name. What's the point of expressing an opinion anonymously? An opinion only has credibility and context when people know who it belongs to.

I don't engage with bloggers who use nicknames. They're not worth responding to.

It's even more important for journalists. It's part of a their role to stand up and be counted for their work, after all, that's what they expect from our contacts.

We can't argue that a free press is a key part of democracy if we're not prepared to put our names to the process.

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