Paywalls and why Tomorrow will not use them

The Toronto Star has announced it will be the latest to go behind a paywall in 2013, while the New York Times and others have lifted their paywalls during Hurricane Sandy to get information to readers.

This simply proves that information, particularly in an era of campaigning for open information from government and others, is not a tap that you turn off and on to suit you.

Tomorrow has a “duty to openness” (principle 6), so we can never justify going behind a paywall. We expect everyone from governments to businesses to individuals to be open with us, so we will be open to our readers.

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We must tread a line between principles 1, 8 and 11 in particular when it comes to comments on our reporting. Everyone has a right to be heard, but we must protect some members of the public on occasion and promote RESPONSIBLE debate and mediation. That means some comments must be removed or edited.

For example, if a comment mentioned criminal allegations against an individual, this would be removed as it might identify innocent individuals or victims.

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Please apply this basic approach when considering a comment: would you make it to a parent or close friend? We encourage readers to discuss stories with friends, family or anyone and then return to make comments. Then you will be meeting principle 11 as well.

And remember, as a news editor once said, you only get five exclamation marks in life, so use them sparingly.