Thief_275LOS ANGELES — I wrote an article for the other day based on a brief interview I’d done with a spokesperson for a California legislator that was taken offline by someone on staff without even telling me. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the story, or at least nothing that could not have been fixed. The reason I was given for why it was taken down had nothing to do with the story itself, and everything to do with efforts to defeat the bill.

Pressure to take the article offline was exerted by an outside party that obviously had a reason for wanting it down. The person who took it down is affiliated with the outside entity. An editor above me was also aware of what was happening, and is the person who explained to me why it was down when I asked.

I was astounded, to say the least. I could not comprehend something like that happening without being informed ahead of time. If there are errors in a story, they can and in fact must be corrected publicly. If new information advances the story, it can (and should) be added in updates. If a source makes a claim or prognostication that turns out not to occur, an updated story will also update the record! But taking a damn story down simply takes something away and can never be justified unless there is something fatally flawed about the original piece. That was most certainly not the case with my small article, which was based on a conversation I had and reported on, like I’ve done countless times before.

But this time was different. This time, my article was taken offline, where it remains, as if it never lived. I’m still upset about it, of course, but I also feel more resolved than ever to fix my own situation.