How WISC-TV/Channel 3000 considers name or picture removal in crime stories
Newsrooms around the country are reevaluating how to balance the responsibility of maintaining a community’s public record while also remaining cognizant of how internet and Google permanency will affect people’s lives long after old mistakes. It’s something that media outlets of the past rarely had to consider because of the difficulty associated with accessing archives.
RELATED: An old drug addiction and an uncharged crime: How the internet won’t let a Madison man move on
Major regional newsrooms such as Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer, The Salt Lake Tribune, and the Boston Globe have implemented policies under which they will consider the removal of names from articles in their internet archives. In keeping with evolving industry trends and in part modeled after policies of the newsrooms just named, WISC-TV/Channel 3000 will consider removing the names and pictures in crime stories under the policy outlined below.
Reasons for name or picture removal
1. Expungement: If a court has permanently deleted all records of your criminal case, and you can provide us with copies of the expungement documentation, we will likely remove your name from an article. Some important exceptions to this rule:
- Violence, corruption, sex crimes, or crimes against children: We will not remove names or articles about these types of offenses, even if your record has been expunged
- Public/elected officials: If your job places you in the public eye with extensive public interactions, it is unlikely you will qualify for removal
- Professional capacity: If your crime is connected to a job or profession you still work in or is connected to a position of public trust (such as a police officer or teacher), it is unlikely you will qualify for removal
- Our managerial and editorial team reserves the right to withhold removal in other rare or unforeseen circumstances that impact the public’s need for name identification.
2. Accusations you weren’t charged for: If your name was published as a suspect or person of interest for something you were not ultimately charged for, we will likely remove your name from the article. This is because of a policy we implemented in 2021 where we no longer name suspects until they are formally charged, with a few exceptions for public officials or public safety.
3. Some very minor, non-violent crimes: Sometimes, people make small mistakes that have no public impact or news value apart from its irregularity. At the editorial discretion of our managerial team, we will consider requests for removing names from articles about very minor crimes that may not have been expunged but did not have real or lasting harm to others. Again, important exceptions to this rule:
- Public or elected officials, or those holding positions of public trust such as police officers or teachers, are unlikely to qualify for removal
- Identification in stories about crimes involving violence, sex, corruption or crimes against children will not be removed
- Crimes where another person was harmed are unlikely to qualify for removal
What to consider
We ask for patience as we work to implement this policy. Our newsroom is smaller than many of the larger, better-resourced outlets that have put similar policies in place, and there may be the need to adjust or modify this policy or how it is applied as we move forward.
Applicants must be applying for themselves, not on behalf of another person in the story.
In most cases, a request approved for removal on Channel 3000 will mean removal of the name or image while the article itself is left online. However, our managerial team may at times choose to remove the article entirely.
What to do
If you believe your case falls inside the categories listed above, reach out to us using the form below; our managerial teams will make a decision and respond to you within 30 days.
Story Removal Request
COPYRIGHT 2022 BY CHANNEL 3000. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.