Editorial Dirty Delete


As an editor for a Christian publication and as someone who has served on the leadership of a Christian nonprofit that specializes in content production, I understand a bit about the backend process of what it takes for an article to go from submission to publication. I also am familiar with the post-publication process, which includes social media, engagement through comments, and, when necessary, editorial correction. In my current role, we do our best to be transparent about any editorial changes that happen after publication. However, what I have seen elsewhere in Christian content spaces is what I have called the “editorial dirty delete.”

“Dirty Deleting”

You’re probably familiar with dirty deleting on social media. It’s when someone writes social media and then ends up deleting it after people respond poorly to them. *Poof!* The post is gone, as if it never existed.

What I’ve called the “editorial dirty delete” is when Christian publications surreptitiously delete published content without notifying their audience or even the author. *Poof* All of a sudden, an author’s entire set of writings on a website has disappeared as if they never existed.

Why Does Editorial Dirty Deleting Happen?

Why does editorial dirty deleting happen? In my experience, more often than not, it’s because someone high up on the editorial decision-making hierarchy has deemed the author or the topic of content as “blacklisted.” I’ve seen it happen where influential pastors or high giving donors threaten to no longer support a ministry if they continue to publish articles about a given topic (e.g. racism), or publish articles by a certain author.

Don’t get me wrong — editorial teams have the right to unpublish whoever they want if the content belongs to them. There are cases when an author has been in grievous sin, and the editorial team should no longer associate with and/or promote them. However, the question is whether it is a Christian thing to entirely remove content without a fair conversation with an author. Is it a Christian thing to be swayed by whatever hearsay or gossip is in the grapevine? Is it honorable to the name of Christ to throw away the fruit of an author’s gifting without any warrant since that gifting ultimately came from Christ Himself?

I’ve Seen the Blacklist

In my experience in the leadership of a Christian nonprofit, I saw a literal blacklist of authors and topics. In many of the cases of the authors who were blacklisted, it was based on secondhand (or thirdhand) information about the author or his/her reputation that was never truly verified. I know this because I helped create this blacklist — at the time, there was an unspoken blacklist that I wanted to see put down on paper so that we could have consistency in editorial policy.

I’ve seen the blacklist at work during my time at the organization and also after I left. I’ve seen content published and then pulled due to “complaints” about the author or the topic. I’ve seen authors have their content deleted wholesale without any reasonable explanation or even have a chance to have a discussion about it. I’ve had my own content dirty deleted as well.

Editorial Courage

Ultimately, as an editor myself, I will say that editorial decisions require courage and fortitude, not only to make the right decisions but also to know when you’ve made the wrong ones. It takes courage to decide to publish a piece or an author knowing that there could be pushback and backlash, especially if it’s a necessary yet controversial topic or figure. It also takes courage to be able to say, “We messed up here.”

If a producer of Christian content recognizes that the approbation of Christ is the most important thing, then they will be courageous enough to avoid the editorial dirty delete. They will be able to have the hard conversation and give authors the benefit of the doubt. They will have the fortitude to stand up to bully pastors and donors and say, “Let’s be reasonable here rather than jump to conclusions.” They will be able to publicly apologize when they have messed up, like when they supported and advocated for an author who was found to be in heinous sin.

There are a lot of publications out there in the world, but only a handful get the privilege of being called “Christian publications,” as entities that are set apart for being Christ-formed in the way that they work externally and internally. My hope and prayer is that those who have donned the name of Christ in their publications are walking in line with Him whom they confess to be the ultimate motivation for their endeavors.



Associate Editor for Faithfully Magazine. https://faithfullymagazine.com/author/timothy-i-cho/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store