In August 2018, a group of journalists and media professionals from across the Caribbean came together in Jamaica to discuss and create an action plan on hate speech and media coverage of violence for the region. The action plan was developed with the regional media landscape in mind, with participants using their local and personal experience to inform its development and ensure its relevance for the Caribbean context.
This Action Plan workshop was organised by the Public Media Alliance (PMA) in collaboration with the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) and with the support of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean.
Reporting Hate Speech & Violence in the Caribbean
An action plan for media practitioners, managers and owners from across the region
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, however, the emergence of multiplatform communication has seen an increase in the dissemination of hate speech.
The media plays a crucial role in influencing the public perception of certain groups or minorities, such as migrant and refugee populations, and therefore need to provide accurate, well researched and objective reporting and analysis. However, this is not always the case as both deliberate and unintentionally negative portrayals are often found in the media, which can detrimentally impact people’s views of these communities.
Hate speech presents major challenges to today’s journalism. It is alarming how rapidly hate-filled messages seep into and overwhelm website comment sections and social media.
With this in mind, the Public Media Alliance (PMA) joined with partners the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) and UNESCO’s Caribbean Cluster for the Caribbean ahead of PMA’s Global Conference in Jamaica to host a workshop for journalists and media professionals from across the Caribbean. The workshop was used to discuss and create an action plan on hate speech and media coverage of violence for the region.
The August 2018 workshop was facilitated by Dr Zahera Harb, Senior Lecturer in International Journalism, City, University of London and Ms Anika Kentish, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, with participants from a variety of backgrounds and media organisations. The meeting, and the passionate debates that ensued, highlighted the need to produce a practical action plan to tackle the issue of hate speech in the Caribbean.
The action plan was developed with the regional media landscape in mind, with participants using their local and personal experience to inform its development and ensure its relevance for the Caribbean context. It will be used as a starting point to fuel further discussion and for the basis of future workshops and training programmes on the subject.
- Understand what constitutes hate content and how best to identify it through the use of tools such as the Ethical Journalism Network’s Five Point Test for Hate Speech.
- Treat all identifiable groups and individuals with dignity and respect.
- Ensure the contextual relevance of a story when identifying an individual as a member of a particular group in society. This includes political affiliation, faith-based group, nationality/ethnicity, race, gender or sexuality.
- Protect the vulnerable, especially children, particularly while covering violence and abuse.
- Avoid propagating a prejudiced position or being manipulated to be a biased voice. Maintain good journalistic values; accuracy, accountability and building trust are three important factors in maintaining good journalism.
- Be aware that hateful expression can be by omission, silence, exclusion or inaction and could lead to marginalisation of certain groups or individuals.
- Establish moderation processes to monitor feedback and comments made to stories or live coverage on various media platforms including social/online media.
- Be mindful of language used – context, semantics, phrasing or stereotypical references.
- Pay close attention to verifying information. Differentiate between fact, fiction and opinion and ensure that verifiable background information is provided.
- Ensure regular training in journalistic ethics for media staff, especially as part of the orientation for new reporters/ staff members.
For more information about the Ethical Journalism Network’s Five Point Test for Hate Speech read the full publication.
Watch the EJN’s Aidan White explain how to use the test in this video.