In A Battle for my Livelihood…

Last summer, as I was making preparations similar to what other educators do for the upcoming school year, I became stuck in a situation that had huge consequences & was also unavoidable. The actual nature of the situation is immaterial (because it was completely false and adjudicated as such) but the impact of this situation continues to haunt me. At a later time, I can outline exactly what happened, but what’s important to my life and my future is the behind the scenes battle that continues to rage on.

Given the visibility of my profession, my situation gained a lot of attention locally and I’ve read many people had opinions about my situation and about me. I have maintained my complete innocence from the beginning and continue to do so to this day. Locally, in a tiny media market, we have a newspaper that immediately picked up the scent of my situation and began to report on it, as you’d expect from a newspaper. I had always been very accommodating of this publication because it was good for our interests and considered a few of the reporters that I regularly interacted with to be friends. As my situation was investigated and eventually decided to be cleared from my life, the proper and responsible steps to remove any artifacts of this situation from my life were taken and those steps have accomplished exactly what they were designed to do. As of now, there is ALMOST no record of any situation involving me, and that should be serving me pretty well.

For about the last 2 months, I’ve filed repeated requests for this news outlet to de-index or unpublish these stories which paint me in the most unfavorable light possible. The original situation has been investigated and decided upon by the proper channels and as I look to advance my career and my life this albatross continues to follow me around, often ruining me before I’ve had a chance to speak with anyone. I’ve begun to work with BrandYourself to help change the analytics of simple web searches, but this publication and their website have really put me into an unfavorable spot. The requests have been denied citing being “local historians” and “preserving records of the facts” which are a function of a working press, but to what end does this need to exist? I must be clear that this base never been a request to delete the news.

Many other countries throughout the world have developed a concept of “The Right to be Forgotten”, and in truly American fashion we appear to be decades from this coming to the U.S., if it ever does. This is a topic, had I never been embroiled in the situation that I was, that I likely would’ve never considered. It is my hope that for other people that face a similar situation to me, I may be of service, and hopefully these continually harmful situations can be resolved by common sense instead of the cost prohibitive thousands that an attorney or reputation service will cost.

As I’ve continued to look to advance in the aftermath of a situation that there was no avoidance of, I’ve spoken with various decision makers and can verify that the scenario I’ve just outlined has cost me opportunities. Whether that is legitimate or a convenient excuse really doesn’t matter, the impact has been real. As my requests have come in this publication that has denied them, has begun to omit any mention of me (and the relevant search bump this would probably give) in almost a weaponization of their platform. We live in an information addicted society, is it an unreasonable request that the information be as accurate and relevant as possible?

The practices of de-indexing and unpublishing are much more common than anyone will openly admit and seem like a best practice in a journalism career.


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