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ERIC Number: EJ846672
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-15
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Alumni Try to Rewrite History on College-Newspaper Web Sites
Kolowich, Steve
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n36 pA1 May 2009
When Nickie Dobo wrote a column in 2003 for her college newspaper--"The Daily Collegian" at Pennsylvania State University--decrying the "hook-up culture" on the campus, she never expected it to resurface years later in an attack on her professional credibility. But that's what happened when Ms. Dobo, now a reporter for the "York Daily Record" in Pennsylvania, came under criticism by a white-supremacist group. A member of the group posted a link to her hook-up essay in an online forum and ridiculed her standing as a serious journalist. Disturbed that an article she wrote as a college student could be turned against her in moments with a Google search on her name, Ms. Dobo contacted "The Daily Collegian" and asked if it would essentially "hide" the article on the paper's Web site so it would be less prominent in any search results. But the editor declined to make the change. Many college papers report similar incidents. As the papers have begun digitizing their back issues, their Web sites have become the latest front in the battle over online identities. Youthful activities that once would have disappeared into the recesses of a campus library are now preserved on the public record, to be viewed with skeptical eyes by an adult world of colleagues and potential employers. Alumni now in that world are contacting newspapers with requests for redaction. For unlike Facebook profiles--that other notable source of young-adult embarrassment--the ability to remove or edit questionable content in these cases is out of the author's hands. Policies forbidding revisions in the absence of provable factual errors are generally derived from similar policies at professional newspapers and rooted in lofty principles. Newspapers are used to document history as it happens, and editors of college papers consider themselves historians of the college community. So for them to remove any information would be, in essence, altering the college's history. Owning their online legacies--rather than trying to kick dirt over them--is what students and alumni should focus on. The solution is not to try to erase the past, but to correct it with better work in the present.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania