If one analyses the media in Europe today it becomes evident that there has been a rise and acceptance of xenophobic, racist and anti-religion narratives. This has evidently run parallel to – and quite possibly has been one of the effects of – the surge of right-wing extremism movements and of ultra-nationalist groups in many parts of the region. Some media outlets have been echoing such narratives, thus reinforcing them. Media and journalists face a serious challenge in tackling these discourses of prejudice, intolerance and hostility towards the other and otherness.
Boris Johnson, the UK’s former foreign secretary, wrote a piece for the Telegraph about Denmark’s recent burka ban, and whether we should adopt the same laws in the UK. Upon reading the title of the piece, which claims that Demark has “got it wrong”, you might be cautiously optimistic.
Our partner in Hungary, Centre for Independent Journalism, commissioned an interview with Professor Daniel Monterescu, Associate Professor of Urban Anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University. Prof. Monterescu talked about anti-Semitism and Jewish responses to the “refugee crisis”. The interview was published in 168óra (168 Hours, a weekly political news magazine in Hungary) both online and in printed version in July.
Our partner in Hungary, Centre for Independent Journalism, held a workshop in Hungary for 20 journalists. The workshop was titled "Deception, misinformation and the impact – use of journalistic language” and focussed on the topic of manipulative language. Specifically, the workshop covered the Hungarian media and political landscape, which is heavily influenced by emotive and manipulative language. It has come to a point where now even the independent press is taking over the language used by Orbán and his government.
Sometimes online hate speech hits the comment sections rather unexpectedly, but most of the time it follows an established pattern. One example is news articles about the Arab-Israeli conflict that usually lead to a wave of antisemitism. It does not even need to be coverage of the actual military conflict. Even Israeli culture and music can serve as a canvas for bigotry, as an example from May revealed yet again. The mere fact that Israeli singer Netta won the Eurovision song contest was reason enough for antisemitic comments. Israel and Israelis serve as a new projection screen for well-established antisemitic narratives and ideology, including ideas about a world conspiracy. It is these double standards that turn the Jewish state Israel…
The French conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles published a series of articles focused on George Soros, where he is described as “the billionaire conspiring against France”. In the 16-page long piece, published on 10 May 2018, three journalists link George Soros to the financing of a number of illegal activities, including “supporting terrorism” and “world disorder”.