Ethics and Hazelwood: What Student Journalists Should and Can Write

Lance T. Dillahunt
East Hampton High School
East Hampton, New York


  • Ethics
  • Ethical Codes
  • Hazelwood and Tinker


  • Topic
    • What are ethics?
    • In life, what are some of the things you shouldn’t do?
    • Are ethics important? For journalists?
    • What is the Tinker case? What was argued? Who won?
    • What is the Hazelwood case? What was argued? Who won?
    • What are three situations where a principal can prevent a story from being published?
  • Critical
    • What happens to a journalist if he or she doesn’t follow the code of ethics?
    • Why is it important to have a Code of Ethics?
    • Why was the Tinker case important?
    • Why was Hazelwood Important?


Activity 1

  • Have students look at the SPJ code of ethics and compare them with their school’s code of ethics.
  • What is similar and what is different? Students should write down two similarities between the two.
  • After, the students will look at the code of ethics from other countries and organizations.
    • Where are the similarities?
    • Which ethics are the most important?
    • The least important?
  • Discuss. Students will collectively decide which ethics they would like to adapt to their own code of ethics.

Activity 2

  • Each group will get two or three situations where a journalist is or isn’t behaving in an ethical way.
  • The students are to identify which ethics he or she is breaking and then rate it from 0-10 on the ethical meter. (Of course, each ethic broken is a 10.)

Activity 3

  • After students have read about Hazelwood and Tinker, I will distribute the “Is it Hazelwood/Tinker?” chart from the SPLC book.
  • After going over the chart with the students, we will collectively go over situations and decide if it is covered under Tinker or Hazelwood.


  • Students will choose five items in their code of ethics and explain why each one should be there.
  • Given another three situations, the students must decide whether it would be covered under Hazelwood or Tinker.


  • “Journalism Today” by Donald Ferguson and Jim Patten
  • “Law of the Student Press” Student Press Law Center