Part of what we do here at The Lewisville Texan Journal is to try to provide information to the public about political candidates, elected officials, and other government officials or people whose decisions impact the public or who have made news with a public interest.
In our coverage of these news makers, there have been times when we have had to publish factual material with a detrimental effect on the individuals, such as their civil or criminal history or financial matters. In all cases when we do this, we try to weigh various factors including the individual's privacy versus the public interest. And we always do our best to make sure that what is posted here is researched and sourced. At times, we write opinions on these matters too, and we try to make it abundantly clear in these cases that the opinion or speculation is just that.
But at some point, items lose their newsworthiness or the public interest aspect becomes moot. For instance, when someone loses an election and is no longer a candidate, it eventually ceases to be in the public interest to have derogatory information sitting around. We're sensitive to the fact that people can and do change for the better, and although much of the material is public record, it could hinder the individual from moving on.
On the other hand, without having a record of the stories, what they said, how they said it, and how it was received, memories begin to get clouded. I've found it very useful to be able to search through old stories to remind myself why something turned out like it did. We also know that others link to our stories, email them around, and use them as reference when making their own arguments. When we remove a story it can interfere with the record and cause some folks to appear to have less credibility.
Just like our decisions on what to post or not post, we will not please everyone with our decisions on what to remove or keep. But we need to strike a balance and try to do what is best.
For this reason, we feel it's necessary to have a policy explaining how we retain these stories, and under what circumstances we would edit or remove a post. These are some general guidelines, but in all cases it will be a judgment call by the editor.
Although crime is not our typical area of coverage, we do sometimes cover crimes. Crime stories will be retained, but any mention of suspects may be updated or removed if we find out that the person has been exonerated. We may remove the names of perpetrators if they have been acquitted, or if they have been convicted and served all punishment.
Political Candidates and Officeholders
If we publish derogatory information about a political candidate, and the candidate loses the election, we may archive the entire post, or just the derogatory parts after 3 months for a local election or 6 months for a partisan election. If the candidate wins election, then the information may be archived after they have served their terms and are no longer serving in public office or a candidate for anything. If the politician is beyond just wrong, but is continually a ridiculous jerkwad, you can bet that we'll trot the story out over and over until it sinks in what a douchebag they are. If the person becomes a candidate again, then the story may be de-archived and redisplayed.
If derogatory information refers to a person other than a person in the public eye, it may be removed after 3 months. If the person is in the public eye, such as a news maker, activist, or opinion leader the information may be removed after 6 months, unless by its nature the information is still topical, or impacts their credibility on the topics for which they are publicly active.
Methods of Archival
Posts on The Lewisville Texan Journal may be archived by expiring them, in which case any external links to them simply redirect to the front page of the blog without displaying the article. In other cases, if it is expected that there are numerous links to the article, we may hide the derogatory content and leave the article in place with a notice in it, linking to this policy. We may also choose to leave the story in place, but remove, obscure, or pseudonymize the name.
Comments for a post that has been entirely archived will not be available for viewing, although they stay in the system, and can be reactivated. Comments on posts where derogatory information is removed may be removed or redacted if they contain reference to the information redacted, or if they would seem out of context given the redactions. In all cases, when comments are edited by us, edits will be noted so that readers will understand.
Further comments to stories which have been edited according to this policy may themselves be edited to remove identifying names.
Timely or Confusing Material
In some cases an article about an upcoming event or election contains information that is very time-sensitive, and no longer relevant after the event has passed. Many times we get lots of hits near election day on old articles listing polling places and such, where it could cause confusion if a reader didn't notice the date. We may alter the material to put a notice that it's old, or we may expire the post.
Exceptions and Disclaimer
The Lewisville Texan Journal is not responsible for the actions of external search engines or archival services which may cache our content indefinitely beyond our control. We may also retain articles on the site when the article is disputed by others, and its retention is necessary to defend ourselves against accusations of libel. We always remove derogatory information if it is found to be incorrect, and note the removal in the post. We may remove derogatory information earlier if requested by the affected party, and we agree with their rationale. Requests should be emailed to email@example.com. In all cases, we reserve the right to use our best judgment as to whether the material serves a public interest. We retain all of the material, including notes and backup documents in our files, and may in some cases share them with researchers, historians, or others who contact us.
For the most part, with very few exceptions, we don't censor or remove posts here. Sometimes users who make guest posts may delete or alter their own posts, but that's rare and highly discouraged. By keeping our posts around indefinitely, we tend to keep that in mind while writing, and it serves to hold us accountable for what we say. There are other blogs out there that continually post dubious stories that later turn out to be false, but since they remove the post, it's harder for readers to discern whether the source is reliable. But because The Lewisville Texan Journal is a public forum that encourages user registration and participation, there will be users who delete their own content.
Please leave a comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 469-248-NEWS with comments or questions about this policy.