The participants discussed hate speech in the media at the first meeting of the Discussion Club at the School of Advanced Journalism

The participants discussed hate speech in the media at the first meeting of the Discussion Club at the School of Advanced Journalism

'The media doesn't hate!' was the slogan of the campaign launched in July by the Independent Journalism Center, aiming at promoting tolerance and accountability in the media. The slogan is equally valid in Chisinau, Bucharest, Paris or Moscow. It is a quote by Charles Haquet, senior editor of the French newspaper L'Express, and Iulia Badea Guéritée, reporter for Romania and Moldova of the magazine Courrier International and editor of the portal They were the invited guests at the first meeting this year of the traditional Discussion Club at the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ), held on Tuesday, September 29.


The two journalists met in Chisinau after traveling to two special destinations: Charles Haquet had just concluded an investigative mission to Mariupol, in the Eastern part of Ukraine, currently controlled by separatists, and Iulia Badea Guéritée came to Chisinau after covering a series of events in Romania. Hence, they approached the topic of hate speech through the lens of their latest experiences, as well as of the latest developments in France and the entire European community.


According to Charles Haquet, accuracy is one of the key tasks of the media, and the journalists must be aware that the attitudes and behaviors of the people towards others in their everyday life depend, to a great extent, on them and on the way they report reality. 'The journalist must share with the public an accurate unbiased picture of reality, and never instigate through his reports to hatred and discrimination. It is a crucial principle nowadays, when the whole world seems to be affected by political, economic and identity crises. Therefore, we must use our key weapon - the words - with even greater care: when we cover the war in Eastern Ukraine, the crisis of Syrian refugees in Europe or the street rallies in Chisinau', said Charles Haquet.


In this context, he referred to the case of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in France, recalling that millions of people and dozens of political leaders declared solidarity with its staff, in protest against the terrorist attack against the magazine's office, in January 2015. He also pointed out that just as many people have criticized the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo several weeks ago, when they published controversial caricatures about a Syrian refugee child found dead on a beach in Greece. 'It is proof that the society penalizes the media that do not cover sensitive subjects accurately'.


Iulia Badea Guéritée spoke, in her turn, about the positive evolution of the discriminatory speech in the Romanian media due to the involvement of a number of civil society actors. ‘Currently, it is no longer embarrassing to talk about children with autism or about people with disabilities in the Romanian media, as it used to be a decade ago, when they were mentioned mainly in a negative context. We have succeeded due to the launching of numerous initiatives aimed at including such people in the society, with the joint efforts of the media, government entities and NGOs.’


At the Discussion Club, the two French reporters also talked about the social and financial status of the journalists in the European countries, as the students inquired whether it was a prestigious profession in the EU. 'Prestigious? Yes, I think so. The people continue to appreciate serious investigations, genuine reporting, and it is encouraging. However, even if I risk upsetting you, I should say that journalism is not a profession that makes you a millionaire - well, except for certain TV stars, perhaps, and one still needs to figure out whether what they do is indeed journalism...', said Charles Haquet. 'Yet, journalism gives you the opportunity to create, to travel and be free, and this is priceless', added Iulia Badea Guéritée.


The Discussion Club at the School of Advanced Journalism was organized as part of the campaign 'The media does not hate!'. The campaign is carried out under the project on combating hate speech in the online media and social networks, implemented with the support of the Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden), IJC partner.


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