Pasadena Weekly Editors on Deleting Online Content

august 29, 2007  08:50 am
With web archives getting more robust by the day, more sources are asking editors to change or delete old quotes and comments, Online Journalism Review reports. Reporter Elizabeth Zwerling talks to a few papers about how they've handled such requests, including the Pasadena Weekly, which in 2006 decided to remove the name of an ex-con from an archived story, six months after it came out in print. The story, on Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams, featured quotes from a man who said he'd been in prison with Williams. The man had been charged with raping and sodomizing his former girlfriend, and convicted of assault -- information that was included in the story, along with the man's claims of innocence. "Our first reaction was 'no don't change it'," deputy editor Joe Piasecki says. "I tend to say that unless (the reporter) screwed up, don't change it." Piasecki, who was also the reporter for the story, says the paper made an exception in this case because the man wasn't familiar with the internet and his quotes weren't that important in the context of the story. The paper ultimately took the man's name out but kept the quotes in. "The guy said every time he applied for a job they Googled his name and this was the only hit," Piasecki says. "We took his name out so he could move on with his life."