Minnesota Daily's online ethical dilemma

Dan Reimold at College Media Matters picks up on the Minnesota Daily’s decision to remove the last name of an international student based on fears of negative implications for his statements to the Daily.

The Editor’s Note above the article reads:

Editor’s note: The last name of the main subject of this story, Ashref, and his family members has been removed from this story since its original publication. The source became concerned of the negative implications that may come from speaking critically of the Tunisian government and its programs upon his return to his home country.

link: Tunisian visitor shares philosophies, views of the U.S. | – Serving the University of Minnesota Since 1900

Dan thinks this is the right decision in this limited instance.

Obviously, in most cases the decision needs to be ‘no changes allowed,’ especially in respect to the most common related requests- people simply having a change of heart about something said or done or sources’ concerns over embarrassing Google results. But I do believe the paper acted properly in this instance.

I’ve discussed this issue previously, and also believe this is likely the right decision.

I’d also suggest to all college media outlets that they think about these issues in advance and develop a policy on the issue. Rather than making changes after the story has gone online, they should consider whether such semi-anonymity should be granted in advance when dealing with sources who come from areas of the world with repressive governments.