Ethical Journalism Newsletter: December 11, 2015


HuffPost and BuzzFeed change and clarify editorial codes in response to Trump’s latest outburst

Columbia Journalism Review – ‘The media’s attitude toward Trump is changing. Finally.
“IN JULY, THE HUFFINGTON POST took the unusual step of announcing that, henceforth, it would classify Donald Trump coverage in its “Entertainment” category, a move emblematic of the broader political press’ mindset back then. But after months of increasingly alarming rhetoric came to a head on Monday, when Trump called for a ban on Muslim travel to the US, Arianna Huffington decided to backpedal.”

Read the full story here on the Columbia Journalism Review.

The Blaze – Leaked Memo: BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Says It’s ‘Entirely Fair’ to Call Trump a ‘Mendacious Racist’

After the memo was leaked to The Blaze, Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith published it on his twitter profile explaining his decision.

Dear Media: Stop Using the Term ‘Radicalized’ Unless You Apply It to White Christian Extremists, Too

“The double standard can’t be more jarring” writes Michelangelo Signorile in the Huffington Post. “For days television networks and media outlets have been parroting the FBI in telling us how the San Bernadino shooters were “radicalized” at this or that time, or speculating on their “radicalization” and how it occurred. This terminology, when applied exclusively to terrorism inspired by a distortion of Islam, is discriminatory, and furthers the very anti-Muslim bigotry that Donald Trump and much of the GOP presidential field promote.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Donald Trump’s hate-speech – How can media avoid fuelling the fire?

On Wednesday The Huffington Post noted that US TV networks had rewarded the Republican candidate Donald Trump‘s “anti-muslim bigotry with lots more airtime” giving him “nearly an hour of phone interviews the morning after making incendiary remarks”.

Trump’s remarks led many, including the EJN’s Director Aidan White, to ask: “How can the media avoid fuelling the fire?”

In our youtube video from earlier this year, Dorothy Byrne, the head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, observes that it is a journalist’s duty to report and inform but media also have to be wary of “turning into the mouth pieces of people who are decimating hatred and that is a balance that you have to weigh up literally everyday.” In the same video, Zahera Harb, a Senior Lecturer in International Journalism at City University London, notes that some Arabic TV channels have decided not to broadcast any ISIS videos as they do not want to be a vehicle for propaganda and hate-speech.

Watch the full debate on the EJN youtube channel.

But when should journalists decide not to report what politicians or prominent groups say on the grounds of hate-speech? The EJN has created a 5 point test for hate-speech to help journalists make this decision. Watch this video of Aidan White explaining what it is and how to use it. .

Youtube: The EJN 5 Point Test For Hate Speech

You can read more about the five point test on our website and find our infographic on flickr.

Hate-Speech: A Five-Point Test For Journalists

One week until the launch of EJN’s new report on migration and the media

On Friday December 18th we are launching our latest report: ‘Moving Stories’ an international review of how media cover migration.

Migration has been the biggest global story of 2015. For this reason the report covers a variety of areas, starting with the media’s coverage of the European Union before moving on to look at the media in Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, UK, Australia, Brazil, China, The Gambia, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and the United States.

The report also includes recommendations and useful links for journalists and media organisations about how to produce ethical content, newsroom practice and challenging hate-speech.

If you would like to receive an embargoed copy of the report or you would like further information please contact the EJN’s new communications officer, Tom Law, via email [email protected] or call Tom on +44(0)7594270633.


Debate on Soft Censorship in Journalism

On Wednesday the Ethical Journalism Network and other media organisations took part in a Tweetchat organised by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers on soft censorship. According to

“Official ‘soft censorship’ describes an array of official actions intended to influence media output, short of legal or extra-legal bans, direct censorship of specific content, or physical attacks on media outlets or media practitioners.”

Organisations from Mexico and the Balkans were especially active in the debate. To find out more about event follow the hashtag #softcensorCHAT.

The EJN have worked extensively to raise awareness and increase understanding about censorship and conflicts of interest in journalism. To find out more read our report Untold Stories – How corruption and conflicts of interest stalk the newsroom or watch the video Corruption and Conflicts of Interest on our YouTube channel.