Decades ago, today’s newspaper would merely become tomorrow’s birdcage lining. However, with the dawn of the digital age, that birdcage has become the Internet, and Petey the Parakeet is now Google the Grey Parrot. Additionally, every time you invite guests for a party or show your boss around the house, good ol’ Google looks at his birdcage lining and squawks about the time you got an alcohol citation in 2002.
At the Daily Nexus, we receive somewhere between three to five calls a month from people who were mentioned in our articles from as long ago as 2001. The complaints all vary in degree: Some wish they had said something more intellectual when speaking to our reporters, and some regret writing an opinion piece that made them look foolish. Others claim reports concerning their arrests were incorrect, and others try to persuade us to remove the articles because the bad press hurts them in job interviews.
For journalists, the web factor has become a rising problem that few know how to address. The New York Times, for example, receives such Google-related complaints about once per day. Nevertheless, many agree that preserving journalistic integrity must remain the top priority when addressing this issue. Arbitrarily deleting news articles taints the record of events and prevents a newspaper’s ability to report truthfully. It also diminishes the public’s trust in the newspaper.
Still, corrections are important as well, and that is why the Nexus would like to take this opportunity to more fully explain our corrections policy, which readers can find on page two of every issue. If a reader believes something was misreported, he or she should not wait. Readers should call us immediately so that we may investigate the situation. If the reader is right, the Nexus can place a correction in both the print and online editions. However, if readers wait for more than a year, it becomes very difficult for the Nexus to investigate. At that point, the burden of proof lies upon the reader.
Furthermore, readers should know that when they write into the paper or agree to an interview with a reporter, they cannot retract any statements after they are published. Journalistic code rules that no source can ever edit or see an article prior to its publication. Reporters stand by this code because allowing a source to edit an article corrupts objectivity. Think about it this way: You wouldn’t want a prosecutor to edit a news article concerning your trial, would you? If you are worried about a quote, ask the reporter to read back your statements during the interview itself. Do not wait until after the reporter has hit the keyboard.
We hope this information may better our readers’ understanding of how our newspaper functions and prevent any problems in the future. Remember: Google rarely forgets. For more information, please see our frequently asked questions page on our Web site at www.dailynexus.com.