NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — NewsChannel 5 has officially launched a “Fresh Start” so you can apply to remove your name from old articles and move forward with your lives.
We know headlines only tell so much of the story, making it easy to forget that these are real people we write about.
People like Nikki Ellis who if you search her name online, you’ll find the first time we met her back in 2021. At Nashville Safe Surrender she helped hundreds of neighbors clear up their outstanding arrest warrants.
“It’s who I feel like I’m supposed to be. It ended up being my purpose work,” Ellis said.
What you couldn’t see and what you find in that story is that she once served 18 months in federal prison. Back in 2009, Ellis was charged with misprision of a felony.
“It means that I knew about a crime, and I failed to report it,” Ellis said.
Although she says she didn’t know much about what was going on, Ellis says the judge told her that ignorance is not a defense.
Ellis was convicted and forced to leave her children. She was released in 2011 but says that by then the headlines were already written.
“It’s like a lifetime sentence. You’ve become the total sum of this one action or this one situation and so it was very difficult just trying to move forward from that,” Ellis said.
Ellis says it’s tough to track down the articles these days, but it took years to rebuild her life. It may not be perfect, but she says it’s better.
Sometimes it takes a fresh start and we at NewsChannel 5 are offering just that for those who qualify. If a story is at least two years old and you haven’t committed a violent crime or a serious felony, you can now request the story or simply your name be removed. Our team will consider each request before it’s sent to our news manager for final approval.
Some stories have already disappeared as we've adapted to new servers over the years. For the stories that remain, our team will also consider these for editing or removal:
- Missing person cases that are resolved without criminal charges.
- Incidents such as Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts were resolved without criminal charges.
- Stories and photos that involve embarrassing, noncriminal behavior.
Tennessee has one of the highest rates of people reoffending within three years at 47%. Studies show having a job can make the biggest difference, but employers have to be willing to see you as more than what they search for online.
“Most importantly it allows people to share their full story,” Ellis said.
Years later and Ellis now runs 4ward Focus. A nonprofit helping people just like her land that job, secure a home, and find success.
Her prior criminal history exists in the records, but it appears that web articles from those days are harder to find.
Ellis says it's important to remember that we all have a story that goes beyond a sentence.