Point Four: The Content and Form of Speech
Journalists have to judge whether the speech is provocative and direct, in what form it is made, and the style in which it is delivered. There’s a world of difference between someone sounding off in the café or the pub and speaking within a small group and a speech made in a public place, before an excitable audience.
Lots of people have offensive ideas and opinions. That’s not a crime, and it’s not a crime to make these opinions public (people do it on the internet and social networks routinely), but the words and images they use can be devastating if they incite others to violence.
Journalists ask themselves: is this speech or expression dangerous? Could it lead to prosecution under the law? Will it incite violence or promote an intensification of hatred towards others? It might be newsworthy if someone uses speech that could get them into trouble with the police, but journalists have to be wary – they, too, could find themselves facing prosecution for quoting it.