#MediaAgainstHate: “Not Censorship but Ethical Journalism”

Dates: 5-6 October 2018

Country: Belgium, Brussels

MAH_Final_VideosAfter 18 month of active campaigning within #MediaAgainstHate project, several European organisations including the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) held the final conference in Brussels. The conference held on 5-6 March 2018 was attended by around 60 participants from all over Europe including journalists, community media, media regulators, journalists’ unions, IT companies and policymakers.

MDI Executive Director Milica Pesic explained why combating hate speech in the media through #MediaAgainstHate speech project was not only pleasant but successful: “A mixture of stakeholders always gives better results. Through this project we have put together journalists from mainstream as well as from community media, civil society organisations and unions. Fighting hate speech is a long and complex process, therefore fighting it together makes each stakeholder stronger”. Pesic warned that although #MediaAgainstHate project reached its end, “but there has to be a continuation of this important work because the fight against hate speech has not finished yet”.

According to Harlem Désir, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media who was a keynote speaker, high ethical standards in journalism and effective self-regulation are the key to combat hate speech and disinformation in the media.” This is a challenging time for journalists. The best answer against online hate speech is not censorship but ethical journalism,” Mr. Désir said adding that a bad law regulating hate speech could be easily abused and used to curb media freedom.

Louisa Klingvall from the European Commission DG Justice explained how EC makes sure that regulations on illegal online hate speech and content and the Code of Conduct signed among IT companies and social media platforms do not have an impact on the freedom of expression. Clara Sommier from Google said that her company employ both technology and humans to detect illegal content. “The company cannot only rely on technology because only regularly trained humans can take into account a variety of languages and cultures,” Sommier said proposing more digital literacy.

“If technology is a part of the (algorithm) problem, it should be a part of the solution too,” an Austrian journalist Ingrid Broddnig said at the #MediaAgainstHate conference that also highlighted the fact that journalists sometimes become the target of hate speech because of their work.

MAH_Final_confAll speakers agreed journalist organisations and associations should play an ever more important role to protect journalists and promote ethical journalism.

The conference also showcased the five winners of the Media Against Hate video contest from Austria, Poland, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic. The five winners shared their personal stories about how their daily work helps fight discrimination and counter hate.

During the concluding panel “What is the way forward” the threat of tabloids and increased tabloid reporting instead of quality journalism was addressed. Speakers emphasised the necessity of credible journalism, showing the reality and background of complex issues in order to explain how propaganda influences people and how politicians are using hate speech for their own agenda. The panelists called for more cooperation among all media stakeholders, including journalists, community media and media organisations to restore trust in the media.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, the presuident of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) that was a leading partner in the #MediaAgainstHate project, concluded the conference saying:”This is a critical time and we need critical minds from both journalists and citizens.”

He thanked the European Commission DG Justice for funding the project and the partners of the project ARTICLE 19, The Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE), COMMIT, Cooperazione per lo Sviluppo dei Paesi Emergenti (COSPE) and the Media Diversity Institute (MDI).