The Guardian’s Readers’ editor on… changing or deleting content in the digital archive

Beng Melea, 11th Century Hindu temple, Cambodia 2007

Beng Melea, 11th Century Hindu temple, Cambodia 2007

The Guardian’s Readers’ editor on… changing or deleting content in the digital archive

Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor has written a piece entitled The readers’ editor on… changing or deleting content in the digital archive Sometimes exceptions will be made and articles are amended or removed, but not because of ‘source remorse’

Among other things he writes:

There are now nearly 2m articles in the Guardian’s digital archive. On average, the Guardian’s readers’ editor receives at least two requests a week to delete one of them. This may not seem many but each is passionately argued, rarely casual. And the numbers are growing.

Successive readers’ editors have taken a pretty firm view on such requests – see Open doors passim – because the Guardian’s archive is a historical record. If we gave way to every request to chip and change, the archive would resemble a bar of Aero, and readers couldn’t trust it.

In her first article after being appointed editor of Comment is Free, Natalie Hanman wrote:

I want to emphasise that Cif is, crucially, about the articles and the comments. Together they make up the complete picture of what we publish. 

It’s rather good that the Readers’ Editor has started to realise what has been happening to the online edition of the Guardian and has been made aware of the concern expressed on this site.  Perhaps he and Ms Hanman could get together and discuss how they might reverse the decision to remove thousands of BTL comments from the historical record simply to save the embarrassment of those who originally posted them.

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