The SEL activities enabled learners to consider wider hate speech issues and prejudices in society towards protected characteristics, how the media and public respond to stories of hate speech/hate crimes, and the importance of ensuring dialogue around these issues (with online and offline stakeholders) is respectful, meaningful and constructive.
In this Media analysis unit, learners have the opportunity to analyse media sources that have drawn attention to protected characteristics (both positively and negatively). They will explore the features of these campaigns that made them effective in gaining attention/sparking discussion/affecting change, and consider how they can develop these features in their own campaigns or actions around online hate speech.
These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.
- Can you think of any controversial news stories/advertising/media campaigns that you have seen recently?
- Why were they controversial in your eyes?
- What was the public reaction to these? Why do you think this was?
- What were the main messages?
- Were they countering stereotypes or perpetuating them?
The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:
“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”
Messages in media
There have been many cases where the media have been criticised for amplifying, or encouraging hate speech, stereotypes or anti-immigration content. The purpose of this activity is to analyse media stories and successful campaigns to identify their characteristics. These characteristics can then be applied to campaigning and media activities the learners may wish to undertake.
(Reports about hate speech issues specific to your country can be found on the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) page.)
The slides contain a variety of news and advertising source that present a range of perspectives on a range of protected characteristics. You may wish to edit the slides, removing sources that are not relevant to your learners. To further personalise the content you may also with to include a recent source from news in your region, a current issue that is polarising society, or recent global controversy. It can be useful to review TV news coverage too, but this will depend on the time you have available for this session.
Using the slides, share the collection of news stories/campaigns with the group, discussing them in turn. Ask:
- What is the story about?
- What protected characteristic does it target?
- Does it contain fact or opinion?
- Can the story be considered from another perspective?
- Does this news story counter stereotypes or support stereotypes? Ask the learners to explain why they feel it counters/supports.
- What emotional or provocative language is used?
- Is the piece biased? How do they know? What weighted words, loaded language or prejudiced pictures are used?
- How do you feel about adverts/news outlets making a bold statement about society/protected characteristics? Is it social responsibility or an attempt to sell more products/newspapers?
The next section provides an opportunity to review existing, successful online campaigns and from this, identify the success criteria that ensure the success of these campaigns.
Using the information provided in the slides, or your own selected campaigns, evaluate these campaigns that started online.
- Did the campaign achieve its objectives (learners will have to decide what they were)?
- What emotions would you associate with the campaign?
- Were they “positive” or “negative”? (e.g. did they aim to inspire rather than anger, empower rather than scare, etc.)
- What was the key component of that success?
- How widespread was the campaign?
- What online routes did the campaign use? (e.g. social media, viral video, online news/articles reporting on the campaign, etc.)
From your analysis of the provided news stories and campaigns, what are the characteristics of a successful campaign?
Ask: Why would you make use of online platforms to spread your idea or movement?
- Is online content more or less effective than face-to-face events?
- What other forms of advertising can be used in a successful campaign?
- What is the key message of the campaign? How is this communicated to the audience?
- Are any comparisons made in the campaign?
- How is colour used? (e.g. black and white imagery suggests a negative tone, whereas colour indicates positivity.)
- If the campaign uses music, how does this influence the viewer? (e.g. if the music is upbeat, then this suggests a positive appeal.)
Guide the group towards these key characteristics of a successful campaign:
- Organisation and mobilisation of your people.
- Inclusive - involving all, including marginalised communities.
- Being clear about the change you want to see.
- Responsive to real-time issues and events.
- Inspire others to generate their own campaigns.
- Hybridisation a key factor of success - both on and offline activities working together.
However, this is not an exhaustive list and you should allow the group to identify other characteristics about the campaigns.
Ask learners to research different campaigns, particularly for issues that are personally relevant to them. Learners could collect these into presentations, or other formats to share with the group in the next session. It may be beneficial for the learners to have carried out their own analysis of the found campaigns.
You may wish to give this worksheet to the learners to help with this task.
Identify the protected characteristics targeted by the media. Critically evaluate the message behind the story. Identify the characteristics of a successful campaign.