In September, Annenberg Media received a request to unpublish a story about a student who accused former USC gynecologist George Tyndall of sexual assault. In an effort to minimize harm to the alumna profiled in the piece, we removed the story from our website. This request sparked a larger conversation within our newsroom about whether Annenberg Media should codify how it handles requests to review published pieces.
According to our ethics policy, stories could only be altered post-publication or airing due to factual errors or serious inaccuracies. We also had a no deletion policy. We’re now expanding our approach in a way that will allow Annenberg Media’s student editors and producers to revisit stories on a case-by-case basis at the request of a source. In the case of the story about the sexual assault survivor, it will be republished with a note and the name of the student will be removed from the piece.
As a student media outlet, we routinely evaluate the impact of our coverage on the USC student body and surrounding community. Following the discovery of dozens of alleged incidents of sexual assault and harassment by Tyndall, our coverage has never more directly related to traumatic experiences endured by the people in our community.
One of our core journalistic principles is to minimize harm. We believe our coverage should provide accountability, but not at the expense of a victim. Since Annenberg Media publishes digital stories on the internet, searchable by anyone at any point in time, the need for a centralized process for reviewing stories has become apparent.
Annenberg Media believes the integrity of the newsroom and a source’s right to have a voice in their own story are not mutually exclusive. By introducing a clear process for potential changes to archival material, our newsroom can facilitate its breaking news coverage while enabling survivors to hold a level of autonomy over their stories after they have been published.
In an effort to be as transparent as possible about this process, any material that is altered will have an editor’s note indicating the changes made and why.
Fill out the form below to request an editorial review of a story in which you are named. You cannot fill out this form on behalf of someone else.
Find our FAQ on this policy at https://bit.ly/AMEditorialReviewPolicy
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