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Rural Journalism, Hate, Journalism, Whitesupremacy, Bias, Objectivitytrap

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Journalists who cover rural areas in the United States say they are afraid to report on hate groups, and this fear is exacerbated by close community ties and limited resources among rural journalists. We examine the concept of “hate speech” as a boundary object, analyzing in-depth interviews with U.S. journalists reporting in rural communities (n = 33) to better understand how rural journalists report on hate. We find that rural journalists articulate a clear definition for hate speech but struggle to apply that definition to events within their communities, even as they articulate numerous forms of hate. Journalists often dismissed acts of hate using the residual category of “not hate, but … ” to signal something that they felt was out of place or unsuitable but did not rise to the legal definition of hate speech and thus was not worth reporting on. This approach ends up challenging journalists’ normative commitments to their communities and exemplifies their desire to avoid an objectivity trap.

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Journalism Practice, in press

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journalism Practice on 16 May 2022, available online: