Report critically and don’t be an enabler. You do not have to report on racist organisations, but if you do report on right-wing extremism, its ideologies and protagonists, they should be reported on in detail.
It is important that coverage should not be restricted to right-wing assaults or other violent actions. It should also focus on right-wing think-tanks and on the connections between mainstream and right-wing discourse and policies.
Media should never provide a forum for right-wing propaganda (a good example of what covered right-wing propaganda can look like). Seek to publish or broadcast material exposing the myths and lies of racist organisations and their anti-social behaviour
In his article HOW JOURNALISTS SHOULD COVER THE HATEFUL (Dublin Inquirer), Sam Tranum debates whether this online publication should (or not) cover views that “are hateful, hurtful, and/or inaccurate”. Tranum considers that “Free speech and freedom of the press are great and all, but in most of the world, there are limits on both, and that is as it should be”. Tranum laments that there are not better regulations to target hate speech and challenges media outlets that will offer a platform to hate speech under the excuse of Freedom of Speech, while pointing out that “this does not include the right to be featured in whatever media outlet they choose. Editors can still decide what to run, and what not to”.
However, Tranum recognise the need for representing a reality, whatever vile, to the media audiences. The question is how to do it. Tranum propose to mediate the message. This is reporting on specific situations, but making sure that hate arguments are not repeated, legitimised or spread.
Do not sensationalise by reports, photographs, film or presentation the activities of racist organisations
Do not allow the opinion or letters column, comment section on the on-line platform or 'phone-in' programmes to be used to spread racial hatred in whatever guise. (The Independent: White nationalist movement growing much faster than Isis on Twitter, study finds)
When interviewing representatives of racist organisations or reporting meetings or statements or claims, journalists should carefully check all reports for accuracy and seek rebutting or opposing comments. The antisocial nature of such views should be exposed, like in this Guardian piece.
Counterbalance right-wing arguments by presenting a counter narrative.
Strategies To Counter Hate Speech
- How do journalists deal with hate speech? Should you ignore them, confront them or report about them to the authorities? Since not all situations are the same, different strategies have worked for different people. It’s important that you recognise your comfort level and trust your instinct.
- Ignore them: Journalist Dawn Foster decided not to engage: “In the end, I discovered the best way to combat the abuse was to ignore it. If someone writes a derailing comment, delete it. Someone wishes rape upon you on Twitter, block them. Someone emails you self-righteous bile, don’t reply: forward it on to your friends to amuse them during their coffee break. Nobody’s entitled to a reply, contrary to what the trolls may think. “
- Report them: Columnist and fiction writer Bina Shah uses all the tools at her disposal, including reporting: “Be ready to report them if they threaten you with violence. Expose them. They expect you to cower with fear. Don’t do it. Show them who’s boss.”
- Expose them: Blogger Cath Elliot wants to make sure abusers are seen for what they are: “I think it’s imperative that women who write online continue to speak out about the abuse we’re subjected to, and that we expose the Internet misogynists at every opportunity we get.”
- Engage them: Journalist and radio host Emma Barnett used her show to interview two trolls, eliciting a positive response from listeners and internet users: “I’m hopeful that the huge reaction his unfathomable comments provoked will have shamed him into realising how awful his approach is. “
- Seek support: You’re not alone in this, and getting others to witness and support you is important and can help you feel more secure in taking action: “[Critic] Anita Sarkeesian tweets just as much of the #lovemail she receives as the #hatemail, and that must be one of the things that keep her going.”
- Go anonymous: Human rights activist Vani keeps her real name quiet: “I voice my opinions on a range of topics. But, I remain faceless and nameless. It helps me distance my life from my opinions because I know how crazy it can get there.”
- Stay online if you can: Feminist writer Sady Doyle won’t be stopped: “The best way to ‘stay safe’ online may simply be to stay online. After all: If there’s no one left willing to complain about the harassment, what are the odds that it’s going to change?”
Dealing with Hate Speech
- Protecting your personal details: Use an alternative address to register a domain name, Don’t post your email address, Protect your location
- Look for relevant policies. Make sure that your internet service provider (ISP) and other services have policies that prohibit hate speech and protect your privacy. If they do not, switch to a provider that is more responsive to user privacy concerns and complaints.
- Establish a comments policy and delete the comments that overstep the boundaries of your established criteria. Feministings policy is a good example to get some inspiration. For journalists, request that media outlets follow this and other strategies in this section.
- Require accounts in order to post comments. You can also activate the option to track IP addresses of commenters.
- Subject comments to approval before they are posted publicly or establish a protocol for checking comments regularly and deleting those that do not meet your established criteria.
- Enlist friends and colleagues to unpublish hateful comments. Save your energy for what is important and have trusted friends moderate the crap.
- When writing for a platform that you don’t own, report hate speech to the editor or publisher. If it continues to be a problem, they should consider closing the comments section on certain pieces or removing comment sections altogether.
- Familiarise yourself with the terms of service or community guidelines of each platform you use so that you know when someone has violated them and how to report.
- Reach out to your support network to encourage them to tweet or post support for you whenever they notice hate speech on your social media accounts.
- Engage authorities: If you are being repeatedly attacked, consider seeking redress. Use the Related Rights section when going to authorities and familiarise yourself with laws in your jurisdiction. Be sure to bring all the evidence you have collected and any information about the abuser’s potential identity and location.
Bibliography & links
National Union of Journalists (NUJ): Race Reporting Guideslines & EFJ Manifesto
For some academic and practical background on how some media outlets have dealt with this, check Far Right Parties and Discourse in Europe. A Challenge to Our Times produced by European Network against Racism (ENAR) with the European Commission
Strategies to Counter Hate Speech
It’s not ‘Opinion’, it’s a manifesto and misinformation: reflecting on the Irish Times publication of an ‘alt-right’ glossary