Stick to some of these rules and less of us may have to go through violent marches coming to our towns and cities

Following recent interviews between UK media organizations and those on the far-right of the political spectrum, in which there has been a failure to robustly challenge views, here are some rules about what news presenters should be doing.

1. Recognise that, as a news presenter, no one is asking you to compromise on your impartiality; they are asking you to robustly challenge and interrogate the views of those who quite literally deny the humanity and existence of others from minority backgrounds. Those whose rights are being denied rely on you at this moment of time to robustly challenge such views. A failure to do so means those views can then appear to be ‘normal’, which has major implications for communities on the receiving end of such hatred.

2. Do not underestimate the distress and impact the views of the far-right will have on those listening to them, especially on communities and individuals on the receiving end of such hatred. A failure to challenge these views properly will cause even greater distress to communities that have had to witness the violent marches and intimidating behaviour of the far-right. Failing to recognise the impact of views that deny the humanity and existence of sections of the population, in and of itself, goes some way toward helping to normalize those views.

3. Do not allow them to talk about other topics when they’ve been invited on air specifically to talk about their support of far-right beliefs. No matter how tempting and no matter what other areas of ‘expertise’ such individuals have, wrapping up the interview with a chat about the current state of Brexit negotiations while only minutes earlier the same guest made remarks that seek to deny the rights and belonging of sections of the population gives them legitimacy. When they are mainly concerned with stereotyping and smearing sections of the population, this requires far more attention than their views on other topics. Humanity comes first.

5. Much as those on the far right of the political spectrum may try, do not allow them a monopoly on defining terms. As political priorities change, so do racial definitions. Not being aware of this and allowing the far-right to play semantics without having recognised the changing nature of racial definitions allows them to frame discussions on their own terms, which is not the point of a news interview and will not help in robustly challenging their views.

Stick to some of these rules, and less of us may have to go through the distress of allowing the far-right, who held violent marches through our towns and cities, to appear normal and legitimate.

Basit Mahmood

Freelance Journalist and blogger

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