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College Papers Won't Rewrite History For Alumni 221

Hugh Pickens writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that as college papers have begun digitizing their back issues, their Web sites have become the latest front in the battle over online identities. Youthful activities like underage drinking that once would have disappeared into the recesses of a campus library are now preserved on the public record, and alumni are contacting newspapers with requests for redaction. Unlike with Facebook profiles, that other notable source of young-adult embarrassment, the affected parties can't remove or edit questionable content. In 2007, a Cornell University alum sued the Cornell Chronicle over a newly digitized article from 1983 that reported he had been charged with burglary while a student at Cornell. The alum found the article after Googling his name and claimed that its new presence online was causing him 'mental anguish' and 'loss of reputation.' But a California judge threw out the case after determining the report to be accurate. Some student papers, like The University Daily Kansan, have found a middle ground by adding the noindex meta tag so that the documents stay online, but search engines such as Google do not index them. 'I thought that would be better than kind of like sticking it to [the alum] and saying the paper is always right and we can publish anything on the Web we want,' says the paper's editor."

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