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.
The EJN five-point test of hate speech has been developed by EJN advisers and is based on international standards.
It highlights some questions to be asked in the gathering, preparing and disseminating of news and information that will help journalists and editors place what is said and who is saying it in an ethical context.
Browse the report, and explore our related resources, by clicking on the links below.
The EJN’s 5-Point Test for Hate Speech Video
Watch Aidan White explain how journalists can use the test in the video below.
Watch our YouTube playlist of videos on reporting hate speech.
The EJN’s 5-Point Test for Hate Speech – Infographics