The Hatchet has you for life (sorry)

It happens every month or so.

Someone we’ve quoted gets in contact with me, not to say they’ve been misquoted (thank God, though that does happen sometimes), but to politely ask that part of their comments or even the whole article they were featured in be taken off the Web. These complainants fall into two categories: people who were portrayed in an unflattering light and people who feel embarrassed and endangered by seemingly innocuous comments they made.

(To make sure people don’t get the wrong idea, no one from the Student Association has made such a request in the last month.)

Only a few years ago, people’s comments were printed in a Hatchet issue that was discarded after a few days, preserved only in huge bound editions generally inaccessible to the general public. The ascendancy of Google, particularly its derivatives self-Googling and Googling by prospective employers, means someone’s actions or comments carried in a Hatchet article are accessible to the world for – well, forever, unless luddites make a triumphant return.

While I sympathize with the person whose mention in a Hatchet article hinders them from getting a job or shirking a reputation, I can’t grant a request to remove an article unless it contains demonstrable errors. Once The Hatchet removes a flawless article or excises part of one, it lays itself open to granting all such requests and undermining one of its core missions: reporting the facts, even when they’re not well received by everyone.

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