Jason Volentine, a former anchor for WXMI, a television station in Michigan, found himself without employment after failing to tell his employers about a relationship he had with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). FFRF, an atheist activist group, is a non-profit that advocates for the separation of church and state, while fighting faith in the public square.
It wasn’t Volentine’s relationship, in itself, that was problematic — it was the fact that he had covered the non-profit group, but had purportedly failed to tell his employers and viewers about the relationship beforehand. In July, Volentine did two stories about the FFRF’s campaign to remove a cross from the City of Wyoming’s logo in Michigan, TVSpy reports.
After letting the anchor go, WXMI released the following statement about the incident, expressing “regret” to viewers and readers, alike:
Following our airing of the story about the city seal of Wyoming, it was brought to our attention that the reporter had a connection to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and failed to disclose it on air. While reviewing the incident we removed the article from our website and immediately removed the reporter from the story. Following our review of the incident we informed our viewers of the connection and the employee no longer works for WXMI. We take this very seriously and regret this unfortunate incident.
Volentine had been with the station since 2010. His byline was purportedly removed from one of his articles. While his second article was originally taken down, it is now live, once again, on the WXMI web site. A note has been placed at the end of the article, reading:
Since the storied aired, FOX 17 has learned the reporter on this story has a connection to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and failed to disclose it. That employee was immediately removed from the story and no longer works for WXMI. We regret this unfortunate incident.
It’s unclear what the anchor’s relationship to the atheist non-profit was, as neither the station nor the FFRF have divulged his standing with the group. Following the incident, Volentine deleted his Facebook page and has not been reachable for comment.