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Aidan White

Published: 2 December 2013

Country: UK

by Aidan White

uk_borderWhen UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government intends to block the free movement of people from Romania and Bulgaria European leaders accused him of turning Britain into Europe’s “nasty country”.

But while he has enraged normally docile Brussels bureaucrats, Cameron has delighted the country’s xenophobic tabloid press. In effect he has lit the blue touch paper for a period of renewed targeting of foreigners in Britain, particularly Roma people and thousands of migrants from the eastern fringes of the European Union.


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Aidan White

Published: 24 October 2013

Region: South East Europe

By Aidan White

The good newmegaphones from Europe’s troubled Western Balkans is that media are getting better. In general there is less hate speech in journalism across a region which 20 years ago was ravaged by war, brutal community violence and acts of genocide.

The bad news is that the slow progress towards more responsible journalism is being derailed by an upsurge in hate-speech from the audience, much of it through online sources which use media outlets as a platform for incitement to violence.


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Aidan White

Published: 16 October 2013

Country: UK

by Aidan White

uk press 2After months of relative calm, Britain’s politicians and press owners are again trading blows over how to regulate the newspaper industry. But tabloid pressure on the worst victims of media prejudice is likely to continue whoever is left standing when the smoke clears.

It has been almost a year since the Lord Justice Brian Leveson made his lacerating criticism of unethical and criminal behaviour by some newspapers which he said “can wreak havoc” on people’s lives. The Leveson Report called on the press to clean up its act and they unanimously agreed to do so, but the progress towards reform has been glacial.


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Aidan White

Published: 30 August 2013

Region: Worldwide

by Aidan White

nahla mahmoudHatred has many faces and journalists need to tread with particular care when reporting issues that may, even inadvertently, reinforce prejudice and bigotry or inspire incitement to violence.

It’s an issue well understood by Nahla Mahmoud, a media spokesperson for an organisation of secular former Muslims in Britain. She has been the target of a vicious campaign by religious extremists after she provided an interview on Sharia Law for Channel 4 television.


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Aidan White

Published: 25 July 2013

Country: UK

By Aidan White

harriet harmanThe men who run Britain’s national newspapers (and a couple of women) have been put on the spot by Labour’s Deputy Leader Harriet Harman who has challenged them to come clean about their employment of older women in the newsroom. In a letter to editors she says that that a "balanced team" including older women is needed to ensure balanced reporting.

“We see the world through news and comment in our newspapers so a balanced team which includes older women is needed to report the world as they see it,” says Harman. “Equality is not just important in principle – it is important for the quality of newspaper reporting and comment."


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Aidan White

Published: 31 May 2013

Region: UK, Worldwide

by Aidan White

woolwichThe brutal daylight killing of a soldier in Woolwich and the media coverage that followed it has increased the fears of many in Britain that Muslims pose a threat to democracy.

The incident has also put the issue of hate speech squarely on the political agenda and posed fresh questions about responsible journalism.

At the same time there are political calls for new laws over hate-speech and privacy rights that could limit media freedom.

If this happens journalists may only have themselves to blame. The media firestorm around the killing has prompted a controversial debate about reporting which some people say has itself stirred up emotions and hatred.


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Aidan White

Published: 18 April 2013

Country: US

by Aidan White

boston bombingWhen media jump to dangerous conclusions in reporting acts of terrorism it can victimise the innocent and reinforce hatreds. This has been highlighted in coverage of the tragic events in Boston this week.

A twenty-year-old man watching the conclusion of the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of the bomb, which killed three people and injured 176, many of them seriously.

But he was the only victim who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force” according to neighbours who watched in amazement as police ransacked his apartment and took away some of personal belongings.

It was this action – as a result of racial profiling by the police – that provided the basis for a widely-criticised report in the  tabloid New York Post which boldly and inaccurately claimed that 12 people were killed in the explosions and, more alarmingly, that a "Saudi national who suffered shrapnel wounds" had been identified as "a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing."

The story, which has yet to be corrected, spread quickly through the usual information pipelines: within 48 hours the story had 48,000 Facebook likes and was tweeted more than 16,000 times.


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Aidan White

Published: 10 April 2013

Region: US

by Aidan White

obamaharris2The widely-publicised apology from Barack Obama for complimenting a leading United States justice official on her good looks has caused a stir about sexism in American media.

Speaking at a fund-raising event at which he talked about his friend Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, Obama is reported to have said:

"You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you'd want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country …."

His final remark was greeted with good humour by the audience with no complaints from Ms Harris, a good friend of the Obamas. But the President apologised later when he was taken to task on Twitter feeds and by media commentators and leading feminists.


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Aidan White

Published: 5 April 2013

Region: Worldwide

by Aidan White

ap logoThe announcement this week by the Associated Press, the world’s biggest news media organisation, that it will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" is welcome, but long overdue. Some may wonder why it has taken so long for this leader of world journalism to recognise that being called “illegal” without trial or conviction is inaccurate and offensive.

The AP is the decisive authority on word use and editorial style at more than 1,000 mainstream daily newspapers in the United States, and it is used by editors at television, radio and electronic news media both in the US and around the world.

The decision to change its style book comes after a lengthy period of internal debate and external pressure. The agency’s use of the term was condemned last year by former White House adviser Charles Garcia, himself of Hispanic origin, who in an article for CNN noted with disdain how the AP Stylebook described the term “illegal immigrant” as “accurate and neutral.”


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Aidan White

Published: 13 February 2013

Country: Russia

by Aidan White

Russia protest 2A police attack on a public meeting and the detention of a number of leading feminists and supporters of International Women’s Day in Moscow on March 8th has prompted strong protests from journalists and their union.

According to reports from Moscow demonstrators from the political party Yabloko and a number of feminist and women's organisations gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day in Russia at Novopushkinsky Park. Soon after the meeting opened, the police arrested two people for distributing a newspaper with articles on the history of feminism, on domestic violence and on the issue of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people.

The arrest sparked angry protests and the arrest of another dozen people as police attempted to close down the meeting.

Their action was encouraged by some counter demonstrators including a well-known Orthodox Church activist Dmitry Tsorionov. This group threw rotten eggs at the speakers and organisers of the rally. Their actions appeared to be carried out with impunity while the police detained more peaceful protesters and, according to witnesses, physically attacked a number of girls.

The next day most of the detainees were released but many will face charges and the Russian Union of Journalists called a special meeting to protest over the incident.


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