Scrubbing - the Scourge of Journalism: The Ethical Issue No One is Talking About, Because It’s Deleted


Simply put, ‘scrubbing’ (first coined by Silverman, 2009) is the action of removing something from existence. In the born-digital news world this could mean changing a mistake in a story and thus changing the master copy, or removing a story from a website, therefore erasing it from existence. While the trope that ‘once it’s on the internet it’s there forever’ is not always true, things can be changed, removed and edited without the audience’s knowledge. But what impact does this have on the information? Are we rewriting history when we scrub information? News is a historical account of the world at the time, it’s not just important for democracy but for our cultural and sociological health. Retrospectively altering articles is a dangerous game. This paper proposes some research Ideas and practical measures which could help the problem, while also discussing the issues in depth with case studies to show the true scope.


Jessie Wilkie
Lecturer in Sports Media, School of Arts and Communication, The University of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Media Marketing and Identity


Scrubbing, Deleting, Rewriting, Public Relations, Journalism, Media, Ethics

Digital Media

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