I can't blame the paper for going the cheapest route. I can blame them for believing patently false info fed to them by their content-management software experts and going with what they THINK is the cheapest route.
I assume their goal is to have a non-anonymous content system going forward, keep their existing comments, and keep the "comment history" of non-anonymous commenters intact and so future comments are connected to past ones made by the same person.
I also assume they want to have all of this done by a certain date and under a certain budget.
Given the short time-frame I assume the remaining work, if any, is expected to take less than a few months.
Their options are:
* Stick with their existing configuration (does not meet the criteria above)
* Dump their existing comment system and start over with a brand new one, possibly losing their entire comment history (does not meet the criteria above)
* Dump their existing comment system and NOT replace it (does not meet the criteria above)
* Keep their existing comment system as an archive but not allow any new comments (does not meet the criteria above)
* Pay $BIGBUCKS to "do the impossible" and get a system that can keep historical comments anonymized but give them what they want going forward (likely does not meet the time and budget criteria above, by a longshot)
* Pay $BIGBUCKS in direct, measurable costs of lawsuits and lost customers and $MOREBIGBUCKS in lost goodwill (likely does not meet the budget criteria above, by a longshot)
The question is, which criteria are they willing to sacrifice? If they continue on their current path, they are choosing to sacrifice the "budget" criteria. I hope they have good legal insurance and enough capital to survive the public relations nightmare that lies ahead of them, or they may wind up needing to hire a good bankruptcy lawyer.