Violent Stalker

journalism ethics image

By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists.

The editor-in-chief of an Oregon campus newspaper contacts the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists asking if he should publish a story about a female student being “violently stalked” by her ex-boyfriend.

The stalker did not physically harm the student, but he has raided her bank account and the young woman is under police protection while moving around the campus. She is suffering severe mental stress, recently injured herself and is on pain medication and anti-depression drugs. The stalker is not a student at the campus and was ordered to stay away from her.

The editor-in-chief fears that an article about the situation might cause the female student greater mental pain or cause the stalker to do greater harm to her. Would publicity scare the stalker off?

What is the most ethical decision in this case? What would you tell the editor-in-chief? This is happening in a university community, where students are forming attachments. Would an article serve as a warning against forming harmful relationships.


The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or

Visit the Ethics AdviceLine blog for more.