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Xenophobia and the Media
World Policy Journal begins each issue with the Big Question, where we ask a panel of experts to provide insight into the cover theme. The question for the spring 2017 Fascism Rising issue is: What role does the media play in driving xenophobia?
We continued the conversation online, with six writers from around the world weighing in on the power of the press to either overcome social divisions or fuel violence and autocracy.
Miyase Christensen, a professor of media and communications at Stockholm University, examines the spread of xenophobic and racist values in Western news—and its roots in the event-based, sensationalist logic of mainstream media.
Drawing on Europe’s World War II history, French political scientist Jean-Yves Camus outlines how abusive rhetoric in the press can incite resentment toward minority groups.
Journalist Anjan Sundaram argues that a free press guards against a single voice taking hold, as happened in 1994 Rwanda, where the media became a tool to breed loyalty to the government.
Nairobi-based journalist Mwaura Samora describes the media’s role in fueling violence in Kenya and South Africa, emphasizing the duty of journalists to report in a manner that will cause more good than harm.
Kunda Dixit, editor of Nepali Times, analyzes how tyrants take control of democratic regimes and journalists’ role in fighting back against their divisive rhetoric.
Finally, communications scholar Matt Mogekwu contends that reporters can exacerbate hatred when they emphasize the socio-economic status and cultural identity of their subjects.
James H. Nolt’s arguments about the possibility of war between the U.S. and North Korea were analyzed in an article in Korea JoongAng Daily.
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[Photo courtesy of Janah Hattingh]