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Unprofessional media, politicians blamed for spread of hate speech

By Mohammad Ghazal - Apr 26,2016 - Last updated at Apr 26,2016

Media experts participate in the Conference of Hate Speech in Digital and Social Media in Amman on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Politicians and unprofessional media outlets play a major role in spreading hate speech, which is being witnessed across the world, media experts said Tuesday.

The lack of ethics among some media outlets and the vast use of social media make the spread of hatred faster and ignite sectarianism and violence, the experts said, noting that journalists should abide by the profession’s principles and avoid publishing propaganda.

“In the Arab world, there is a state of chaos in the media scene coupled with chaos in the political arena… Bad media and bad politics led to the spread of hate speech,” Basim Tweissi, dean of the Jordan Media Institute (JMI), said at the opening of the Conference of Hate Speech in Digital and Social Media held by the JMI in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Journalism.

The chaos in media and politics in the region was coupled with the emergence of radical groups, which worsened the situation as they have resorted to using social networking sites to spread their propaganda, causing further divide, said Tweissi.

The solution lies in focusing on media education at all levels, he argued. “It is time that media education became part of curricula in the Arab world.”

Stressing that freedom of speech is crucial for democracy in the Middle East, Frode Rekve, of the Norwegian Institute of Journalism, said quality journalism is a key factor in putting an end to hate speech.

More training for media professionals is required, said Rekve, noting that hate speech is a problem all over the world.

Social media users take advantage of their anonymity to bully and spread hate speech, creating a new persona, Aidan White, the director of the Ethical Journalism Network, said at the conference.

“We should not allow hate speech interfere with our communication… Media need to focus on humanity, transparency, independence, impartiality and accountability,” said White.

“The problem of hate speech is the politicians who don’t know how to keep their mouths shut,” he added.

White blamed mainstream media outlets for spreading terrorist propaganda by publishing pictures that groups like Daesh post on social networking sites.

A picture of a Daesh terrorist standing next to a hostage while holding a knife before chopping off his head was circulated by media outlets around the world, he said.

“They [Media] didn’t even try to hide the face of the hostage.” 

 

Several topics are on the agenda of the two-day event, including hate speech in digital and social media, the role of social media in producing and reproducing narrow and fatal identities, and hate speech in Arab media.

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