Editorial: Name removal from published article

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On April 14, The Campus published an article regarding an assault that occurred on April 7 at Julian’s Bar and Grill. An Allegheny student (now former Allegheny student) was arrested for his alleged role in the assault, and the charges were later withdrawn on May 14. The name of the student charged appeared in the April 14 article until Sept. 6, when it was removed by the editorial board.

This was a conscious decision made by the editorial board.

In terms of legality, The Campus had every right to publish the former student’s name, as it is listed in court documents, which are a matter of public record. These documents are accessible to anyone. There was no incorrect information in the article, and no journalistic ethics were broken through publishing the former student’s name.

Therefore, the decision to remove the former student’s name was a circumstantial one made by the current editorial board with the former student’s personal and professional interest in mind. The former editorial board was also cognizant of the former student’s best interest. Recognizing that the former student could have faced negative consequences, the former editorial board kept his name out of the lead and headline of the April 14 article.

The Campus is sympathetic to the former student’s digital footprint — the editorial board recognizes that in a digital age, any piece of information is made immediately available. The editorial board is conscious of this changing landscape in which journalists currently operate, and finds it important to adapt from traditional journalistic norms when appropriate.

After taking into consideration the former student’s lawsuit, filed in June, against the City of Meadville and nine additional parties, speaking with the former student’s family and using scholarly information to confirm the ethics of the decision, The Campus saw no issue with removing the former student’s name from the April 14 article.

Despite this decision, the editorial board wants to stress that removing information from stories will not become a precedent in future articles. This decision was, as stated previously, a circumstantial one. In the future, The Campus reserves the right, both journalistically and ethically, to refuse the request to remove a name or piece of information from any publication, assuming all information is completely accurate and lawfully obtained. The editorial board will continue to adhere to journalistic ethics. The Campus has not, is not and will not jeopardize its integrity by setting a precedent of removing names upon request. This decision was made after thorough research, both into journalistic ethics and the specific circumstances of the unique situation.

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