Last June, DC Comics announced that the company would be reviving their graphic and adult content imprint, Vertigo Comics. The relaunch was announced alongside several new titles which aimed to speak to current social issues, such as xenophobia in Eric Esquivel’s Border Town or sexual freedom in Tina Horn’s Safe Sex. One of the titles announced for this relaunch was Goddess Mode, a cyber punk adventure series written by Zoë Quinn with art provided by Robbi Rodriguez.

Recently, The Verge’s Laura Hudson conducted and  published an interview with Quinn. The published piece is a fairly standard promotional interview in which Quinn speaks at length on Goddess Mode in order to promote her book in the wake of the comic’s official release. Yet many readers were quick to point out that, while the piece itself was innocuous, there was a glowing omission: Hudson did not disclose her personal relationship with Quinn.

According to tweets between Quinn and Hudson in response to Hudson’s article, it appears that the two have a personal relationship outside of professional connections and networking:

In another exchange from the same thread, Quinn and Houston confirm that they’ve regularly engaged in social activities together:

In journalism ethics, it is common practice for journalists to avoid conflicts of interest between themselves and a subject, and to disclose those that are unavoidable. On the subject of conflicts of interest, The NYU Journalism Handbook for Students: Ethics, Law and Good Practice states:

Most newspapers bar reporters from writing about, or including quotes from friends or family members, although there may be some exceptions, if the reporter is open about it. In an autobiography or memoir, obviously it is fine. Even here, however, there is an obligation: the writer should be transparent and stipulate the relationship, whatever form that may take.

Many journalistic institutions, such as NPR, The Society of Professional Journalists, and the Radio Television Digital News Association, include stipulations and guidelines regarding conflicts of interest in their codes of ethics. Furthermore, The Verge’s publicly available ethics statement (based, by The Verge’s admission, on the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics) contains the following core guideline:

We do not allow reporters to cover people or companies where they have a personal conflict

While it is not illegal to avoid disclosing a personal relationship, it is widely considered professionally dishonest.

Hudson’s article regarding Quinn appears to be her last at The Verge, as she has apparently been let go by the technology news site for undisclosed reasons:

This is not the first time that Quinn has been associated with complaints regarding ethics and journalism. In 2014, allegations that Quinn’s undisclosed personal relationships provided a conflict of interest in regards to favorable coverage of her game, Depression Quest, were a basis for the GamerGate movement.

  • About The Author

    Spencer Baculi

    Spencer is the Editor for Bounding Into Comics. A life-long anime fan, comic book reader, and video game player, Spencer believes in supporting every claim with evidence and that Ben Reilly is the best version of Spider-Man. He can be found on Twitter @kabutoridermav.