The Seminar on “Racist Discourse, Far Right Rhetoric and Media” organised by the Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece in collaboration with the School of Journalism and Mass Communications of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and the Journalists’ Association of Northern Greece (ESIEM-Th), took place on 28-30 May 2014 in Thessaloniki.
The expansion and, in many cases, the consolidation of the far right rhetoric in the public discourse was the main subject around which the seminar presentations were developed, aiming to highlight the problems involved, but also best practices. The majority of speakers raised the issue of the prevalence of incorrect phraseology and terminology regarding refugees and migrants, which is associated with racist discourse and far right rhetoric, racist violence and it is often detected in the statements of the political parties and individuals.
The role played by local actors and Media is crucial in strengthening the phenomenon. There is a preparation of decades in the Greek public debate that favored the development of racist discourse to the point it is today. The phraseology used by the Media paves the way for the stereotypical treatment of migrants and refugees, the creation of prejudices and their demonization. To limit the phenomenon, it is imperative that migrants and refugees have a voice. However, their presentation to the Media should be handled with care, patience and sensitivity in order not stigmatized or confronted with other unpleasant consequences.
Particular reference was made to the Golden Dawn as Media Phenomenon. For the past 20 years, words and messages have been repeated in the media, constructing a reality that reinforces racism. The narrative that characterizes migration as a criminal act and creates the fear of equality with these impoverished people dominates. A similar situation is observed on the Internet with defensive nationalism being characterized by aggressive and violent speech, which contains ultimatums, opposing dipoles and calls in rallying.
During the seminar, a series of exercises on published reports were implemented aiming to highlight the good practices by which journalists should approach issues of migration and racism, away from easy sensationalism, with respect to all aspects of a story and by conducting research to highlight elements that may not be visible at first reading but are of particular value in shaping public opinion.
The seminar involved a range of renowned journalists, academics and representatives of civil society: Kaiti Kechagioglou, Information Officer, UNHCR; Christos Fragonikolopoulos, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, AUTh; Naya Kalfeli, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, AUTh; Filios Stagkos, Journalist, Director, Municipal Information and Entertainment Company of Thessaloniki; Despina Syrri, Director, Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece; Giannis Sidiropoulos, Journalist, ESIEM-Th Member; Christina Pantzou, Journalist; Vassilis Vamvakas, Lecturer, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, AUTh; Kalli Zarali, Journalist, PhD Candidate, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, AUTh.