In 2015 hate-speech became a mainstream concern for news media. Violent propaganda from media-savvy terrorists, loose language from populist politicians and bigoted journalism from the likes of Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins over the migration and refugee crisis have all put journalists and editors on their guard. In today’s digital environment everyone can have their say but very often the discourse is poisoned by hate and intolerance.
Poland has a newly elected populist socially conservative government, but the EU is questioning whether the new administration is conforming to the rule of law. The President of the European parliament has described the situation as “a dangerous Putinisation of European politics”.
French-Moroccan photographer and video artist Leila Alaoui has died from injuries sustained during the jihadist attacks on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on January 15th. She was in Burkina Faso on an assignment for Amnesty International.
Recently-elected Tanzanian president John Magufuli has garnered regional praise for his reformist proposals aimed at rooting out government corruption and incompetence. But his administration is facing its first real test of that agenda following a decision to ban a tabloid for producing journalism it says could threaten the country’s stability.
It has been a testing year for journalism. It began with 10 journalists and cartoonists among those killed byterrorists in the unconscionable massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Within hours the EJN published an article advising journalists to defend free speech but also to lower the temperature, to eliminate hate speech and to avoid encouraging acts of revenge or abuse of Muslims. We called for “slow journalism” and for newsrooms to think carefully about how to handle the story.
The Paris events triggered much talk in media circles over free speech, self-censorship and ethical responsibility. And the EJN was at the centre of this debate. We published a second articleurging journalists to rely on their codes and editorial traditions when reporting terrorism, to avoid propaganda traps set by media-savvy extremists and, above all, to tell the story with humanity.