A Hate Group Chat

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By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

A staff writer for a southern arts and entertainment magazine learns that the publication’s columnist spoke to a racist hate group on how to get their message out through media.

Fearing this violates ethical standards, the staff writer brings her concerns to an editor, who becomes angry for “bringing him problems without offering solutions.” The columnist who spoke to the League of the South did so without management’s knowledge, and contends she did not know about the neo-Confederate organization’s mission and reputation.

The staff writer comes to the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalist asking how she should deal with this situation, since she is not sure she wants to work for a publication that employs people who appeal to racist groups. What advice would you give to the staff writer?

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics encourages journalists to “remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.” It also tells journalists to “support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”


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 ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

Visit the Ethics AdviceLine blog for more.