Somewhere in America, at this very moment, someone is reading about a very deep and personal matter, one that should have stayed private, on a very public website. The person was perhaps arrested, and the record of that arrest made it into the newspapers.
Or perhaps the person was involved in some kind of altercation, and while no charges were pressed, a reporter covered the story. Or, maybe the person had one too many drinks at a bar and agreed to be a source for a story a reporter was writing, and all of those dirty details are now online for all the world to see.
When situations like this happen, it’s common for people to contact their local newspaper editors. If, by some miracle, they can chat with a live person about their problem, they might be told that it’s impossible to remove the article from the web archive. Some news editors resist the idea of deleting items that are considered newsworthy, and they might resist an unpublish request on those grounds alone. Others won’t play ball because they don’t have the manpower.
One newspaper interviewed for the Columbia Journalism Review, for example, needed 3 days to respond to even one unpublish request, and that agency no longer wants to entertain any requests in the future, because there just aren’t enough people to handle those issues.
Even if the article is removed, the stain left behind might linger. For example, a journalist writing for the New York Times wrote an article with some suggestive questions aimed at the actress Tippi Hedron. When colleagues responded to that article via Twitter, and the original writer chose to fight back, the entire incident became newsworthy and it was covered in the newspaper, on private blogs and on social media. It became, in other words, an event.
Even if the writer could get the original article removed, the stain left behind is much too immense to go away on its own. As more and more people become reporters in their own right with their own blogs and platforms for sharing information, stories can grow and spread, and they become harder to control.
Reputation management companies like InternetReputation.com specialize in virtual web scrubbing helping individuals and business owners wipe away negative press and online slander.
Fighting back often means getting comprehensive. Blogs, news articles, press releases, Twitter feeds and more can all help to boost the buzz about a person or a company, and this kind of comprehensive approach can drown out any negative information that might be lingering in cyberspace.
An approach like this can also stay in place for months, ensuring that the negative issue is really dead to the world, never to rise again. That’s the kind of help a reputation management company can offer, and it might be the best way to remove a negative article that appears online.