As a general policy, WRAL does not remove stories or images from our archive.
We get many requests from people whose arrest records show up when prospective employers or partners search their name.
If your charges were later dismissed or expunged, we will add that information as an "Editor's Note" to the top of the story, but we don't remove stories.
If you find information that is incorrect in a WRAL.com report, we will correct that information, but we don't remove stories.
While I appreciate the journalistic integrity angle behind this position, it seems rather heartless. Prior to the advent of the internet, if an unflattering story about an individual were published, it would require a bit of sleuthing to uncover it years later. Now, a quick Google search can (perhaps unwittingly) bring up stories and images that can be damaging to a person's career and relationships, even if that person has reformed and paid their debt to society. People who have an actual need to know about a person's past misdeeds can obtain a background check, but sometimes a Google search of a person's name is done for other, more innocuous reasons, by people who have no need to know about a person's past mistakes. Failing to acknowledge the real consequences this policy has on people, amounts to WRAL inflicting a life-sentence on people who have made bad decisions in the past, regardless of the severity of the crime or current behavior.
A past conviction is already a huge hurdle to overcome in a person's life when trying to get back on the straight-and-narrow and people are quick to judge. Does WRAL think that a note about dismissal, etc. will somehow stop the knee-jerk judgement that results from uncovering an unexpected and unflattering story about someone they know?
I would encourage WRAL to take a more compassionate approach and consider a policy wherein, after a designated time has elapsed, perhaps for minor or non-violent crimes, names are removed from the search terms for stories.
There is also a racial component to this policy. Since people of color are more likely to be charged with crimes and more likely to be given harsher sentences (and more likely to end up on WRAL.com as a result) than their white counterparts, this punitive policy acts as another cog in the entrenched, institutional racism in our country/state -- making it harder for people of color to move on and try to improve their lives. Thanks for maintaining our awful status quo, WRAL!