Want us to review an old article? How to apply for a Clean Slate.

·3 min read

Welcome to the Herald-Leader’s Clean Slate pilot project.

After 2020’s summer of protests raised important issues and questions about racial justice, equity and fairness, we’re re-examining some of our own practices, especially in the context of today’s digital world. Among them, we know that years-old news stories about such things as minor criminal offenses or cases that were eventually dismissed can follow you around in the digital world forever — sometimes making it difficult to find a new job or to make a new beginning in life.

Under this pilot project, we’re offering a chance for a Clean Slate, an opportunity to apply for us to review articles more than a year old — and not involving current, ongoing criminal or legal action.

Here are some key questions and answers about the project:

How do I apply?

If you’re interested in applying, just fill out the application form, which can be found at this link. The application asks for basic information about your case, including a link to the story or stories you want us to review.

What happens after I apply?

Herald-Leader journalists will review your application, do additional research and get back in touch with you. In some cases, a member of the Herald-Leader staff may reach out to you for additional information, documents or materials.

What actions might you take?

After our review, possible outcomes could include removing the article from Google searches, amending or updating it, or removing it from Kentucky.com entirely.

We also may take no action, depending on what we find and based on our editorial discretion. Decisions will be made by a group of Herald-Leader journalists, with input from senior journalists and editors in McClatchy, our parent company. For example, cases involving public figures or serious crimes or offenses are unlikely to meet the threshold for action (though we will still review these applications).

If the story is removed from Google searches, will it remain on Kentucky.com and in other places?

Stories that are de-indexed from web searches will remain on Kentucky.com and can be accessed through existing links on other sites. We are not removing any stories from our permanent newspaper archive or research sites that access it. In all cases, stories will remain accessible in our permanent digital archive.

What kinds of stories will you review?

We’ll review articles that are more than a year old and do not involve current, ongoing criminal or legal action.

Again, we’re not talking about news stories involving active legal or criminal cases, nor are we talking about coverage that people simply disliked or found controversial.

Here’s one small example of what we are talking about: A minor arrest that we covered years ago, without follow-up coverage when the person was later acquitted, or the case later dismissed or even expunged.

This project is aimed specifically at such stories that live on, through our site and through search engines, and may keep someone from getting a fair shake much later as they try to move on with life.

Why are you doing this?

We know that years-old news stories about such things as minor criminal offenses or early news stories about cases that were later dismissed can follow people around in the digital world forever — sometimes making it difficult to find a new job or to make a new beginning in life.

Other news organizations such as The Boston Globe have launched similar projects to re-examine the ongoing impact of past news coverage.

As the Globe notes: “Globe journalism was never meant to be a permanent obstacle to someone’s success, with the worst decisions and moments in regular people’s lives accessible by a few keystrokes for the rest of time.”

How do I get more information?

For more information on this pilot project, go to www.kentucky.com/opinion/editorials/article250720789.html.

For questions, contact Herald-Leader Editor Peter Baniak at pbaniak@herald-leader.com.

The internet has a long memory. We’re offering a chance for a Clean Slate.

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