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Journalists at U.S. News and World Report just found out that the stories, reporting, and content they produced before 2007 is no longer being retained by the publication.

Jim Romenesko (@romenesko) reported today that U.S. News has deleted archived web content published before 2007.

A Romenesko reader recently noticed that U.S. News wiped out a good chunk of its archives. He writes: “The way that I stumbled upon this is that I am constantly going back into archives of various publications while doing research. U.S. News back in the day had some of the best political reporting around, and it seems a sin that that just disappears unless you have Nexis (which costs a lot, is not comprehensive, and more difficult to search through).”

It sounds nuts, but U.S. News editor Brian Kelly (@BKellyUSN) told Romenesko:

Last week we launched a new content management system and decided that we could not effectively keep archived web content published prior to 2007 on our site. Those stories, which mostly originated in the print magazine, are available on the LexisNexis and EBSCO archive services, as well as in bound volumes.

This is nuts. These stories are from world class journalists who have worked for not only U.S. News, but The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Atlantic, Forbes, and more – from whom I have seen responding to this development.

I hadn’t heard of anything like this since back in 1999 when I heard ALM was deleting content from their servers when the servers filled. It surprised the heck out of some ALM reporters and editors I met then. I am sure they stopped doing this long ago.

What does this have to do with lawyers? A lot.

Where are you publishing content? Who owns your stuff? Is your legacy of providing insight and commentary protected?

Are you publishing in third party publications because of the presumed prestige of publishing with a brand name publication? If so, is the publication guarantying that your content will remain online in the same place so that your content grows in influence — especially as to search and social media? Does the publication set you up with your own digital publication that you brand, own, and retain?

I am being facetious with these questions. It’s not reasonable to expect third party publishers to accept this burden.

Knowing that, why would you publish at those publications first? I am referring to professionals such as a lawyer who publish to build a reputation, grow influence, and build relationships. If you’re working at a publication as a journalist, you have no choice.

As legal professionals, a blog that you brand, own, and keep forever is the only way you can protect yourself and your legacy. You have no long term control when publishing with third party publications, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Your content could be deleted at anytime.

Hubs of curated content may still exist under third party brands. That’s mutually beneficial for the ‘hub publisher’ and you as the blogger.

But your content lives at your blog first. The hubs exist to shine a light on you and enable you to be part of a network of lawyers providing real and authentic legal insight, information, and commentary.

The hub may benefit from other revenue including sponsorships and advertising — let alone receiving great content without the traditional expense of reporters and editors.

A blog is also the most prudent place to publish today. Content on blogs developed on WordPress technology will be easy to work with in the years ahead. WordPress, now empowering 20 percent of websites/blogs world-wide, is becoming the publishing platform of record, internally and externally.

Just ask traditional publishers how easy it is to move content from one platform to another. This is apparently the reason U.S. News is deleting content. That’s why WordPress technology is a wise choice.

For lawyers who are giving of themselves through blogging, control your destiny and protect your legacy. Have your own blog.