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Family ties

by John Miller
| June 27, 2010 9:00 PM

IDAHO FALLS - A reporter for a news website funded by a conservative think tank is covering the 2010 Idaho State Republican Convention where his father and brother are delegates.

Dustin Hurst works for Idahoreporter.com, which is funded by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a group that advocates against what it calls government waste and for free-market solutions.

Hurst's father, Marshall Hurst, and brother, Tyler Hurst, are delegates in Idaho Falls, where they're helping the state GOP's inner circle set its agenda for the next two years.

In an interview with The Associated Press in March, Idaho Freedom Foundation director Wayne Hoffman said his reporters are working according to sound journalistic standards and principles that are designed to prevent conflicts and boost public trust.

Asked about Hurst's coverage, Hoffman says he'll re-evaluate how his employee is deployed for potentially ambiguous assignments, given his family ties. Hoffman, a former newspaper reporter, said a possible conflict didn't occur to him until he saw Dustin Hurst and Tyler Hurst in the same GOP meeting room, one helping set Republican policy and the other writing about it.

"You're right," Hoffman said. "I promised at the beginning of this we would try to uphold the journalistic standards that need to be followed. Where we fail in that, we will make corrections."

Until the AP told him, Hoffman wasn't aware that Marshall Hurst, from Kootenai County, was also a delegate.

The Poynter Institute, a St. Petersburg, Fla., media training center, advises journalists to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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