Revisiting the requirements of hutchins: Context and coverage in the post-George Floyd world

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020 set off a season of upheaval in communities across the country and beyond. Rioting erupted, buildings burned, and activists demanded the dismantling of police departments. For journalists, this was not just an enormous story, it was a challenge to the long-held practices, policies, and values of traditional news organizations. It was not the first such period of self-scrutiny. In 1947, the Commission on Freedom of the Press, better known as the Hutchins Commission, challenged the United States news industry to reform itself before outside forces imposed reform upon it. The commission's report identified five requirements of a free society. If not met by journalists, the Hutchins report warned, these requirements would lead that society to regulate news media through governmental means. This chapter examines how the Hutchins requirements relate to reporting on race relations and challenges to journalism that followed the police killing of George Floyd. It explores the issue of who gets to decide which words journalists use; new thinking on such old concepts as objectivity, independence, and neutrality; and the notion that news organizations owe greater protection to certain public protesters than tradition would dictate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Journalism Ethics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780429553301
ISBN (Print)9780429262708
StatePublished - Aug 20 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 selection and editorial matter, Lada Trifonova Price, Karen Sanders, and Wendy N. Wyatt. All rights reserved.


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