Hate speech is often used synonymous to any negative phrase. Offensive, misinforming or discrediting materials are thought to be hate speech. In reality, there is a big difference between them. Because every country has its unique context, it is hard to distinguish what hate speech is and which terms or phrases will increase negative attitudes towards a certain person. However, there is an agreement on what is hate speech based on. According to the recommendation of European Council Committee of Ministers approved in 1997 year, “Hate speech includes every way of expression which shares, supports, encourages or approves of racial conflict, xenophobia, antisemitism or other forms of intolerance-based conflict, including nationalism, ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities or migrants”. Based on this definition, hate speech is different from offensive or libeling. Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics Article Seven is about hate speech and says: “Journalist should understand the danger of encouraging discrimination by the media and do everything to avoid discriminating a person based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other beliefs, national or social origin or any other reason”.

According to the Charter Council practice of cases, the seventh principle covers discrimination, hate speech and stigmatization. Based on European Council and Charter definitions, hate speech should be about a certain identity. Discrimination and stigmatization should also touch on a certain characteristic and negatively show people based on this characteristic. Council said in one of the decisions that “hate speech should be aimed at a specific group and be offensive, but not every type of offensive text is a hate speech”. This way Charter Council differentiated discrimination and discreditation from each other.

The important thing about hate speech and discrimination is the context, attitude in the society about a specific topic. One thing can cause the stigma in one society to increase when members of other society might not even notice it.

If media is not careful about every case and does not think about frame and terminology used while working on sensitive topic, it might easily become a weapon to encourage and strengthen stereotypes.

General Principles

  • Media companies should try not to support non-tolerant, discriminating environment and hate. 
  • Media has a social responsibility to not only not discriminate, but also work against irrational fears and disgust of the society.
  • Each media company should have a policy of fighting against hate, which will be clear for the employees and the audience.
  • Media companies need to react immediately to the feedback from citizens if the feedback says that media has been sharing hate speech or discrimination.
  • Media product based on facts, in which a journalist tries to see the problem from every perspective, protects the media from encouraging discrimination.

Focusing on Identity

As was mentioned above, hate speech is directed towards groups unified with a certain identity. One negative behavior from a group member is generalized on the whole group and causes their discrimination. Every person is individually responsible for the antisocial behavior and focusing on the person’s identity you are just strengthening negative attitudes of your audience towards the whole group.

  • When you decide to mention a person’s origin, religion, sexual orientation or social status in connection to the negative behavior of a person, think about how important it is for the story. Does it give additional information? Is it giving more worth to the story? Will it focus on negativity towards the whole group? If there is any risk that this information will support stigmatization and stereotypes and also if there is no lack of information caused by not adding the information, consider not focusing your attention on this detail.
  • It is unacceptable to mention ethnicity, religion or another identity of the accused person if it is not directly connected to the crime in question.
  • Negatively focusing on origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical characteristics or social status of a person is recommended only in the case where such information is important. For example, when a person was attacked because of discrimination or became a subject of violence because of such (religion, origin, faith, etc.) characteristics. When in the case of antisocial behavior, you think such information is important, it’s better to specify a country of origin and not an ethnicity. For example, say “Georgian government was contacted about extraditing a citizen of Iran” and not “Georgian government was contacted about extraditing an Iranian person”.
  • It should be a priority of ethical media companies to fight against negative myths about people of certain identities.
  • Try to check what the negative beliefs are in the society about specific identities and what they are based on. 

Using Hate Speech

There is a discussion between media professionals and in general society, whether people using hate speech should be covered or not. There is no prohibition against this because there are situations when this supports discussion in the audience. We cannot share information with our audience about a large-scale fascistic or homophobic demonstration or about people who were elected in Parliament and are using hate speech from this platform. Therefore, everything is dependent on context, the reasons, and aims of coverage and its frame. Hate speech can be shared when you want to show:

  • A parliament member or a public figure igniting hate and using incorrect terminology;
  • A public institution being discriminatory. E.g. they have a text, warning of any kind published;
  • The certain group is igniting hate in the society;
  • This list is not comprehensive and can include many other topics. The main idea is that there should be a public interest present, so you have a reason for sharing the information.
When publishing material containing hate speech:

  • Be clear about the reason for publishing. Show that you are against such a position. This does not necessarily mean saying “We are against the ideas of the respondent”. This can be shown in a different way and with different text. 
  • When deciding to show a public person or institution in e.g. homophobia or other discrimination, it is best to title story with “An official used the homophobic phrase; “Minister responds to the opponent with sexist phrases”; “An institution established discriminatory restraints”, etc. If you only use the phrase as a title and hint in the text that you are against such phrases, a part of your audience might not even open the article and just by reading the title they will not guess that the editorial staff is against the decision. 

Choosing Respondents

  • • Choose respondents carefully. Think before giving the platform to people who are often discriminatory. Ask yourself, why are you inviting them? What is the information you are awaiting from them? Are we ready, not to support them in presenting hate speech from our platform?
  • Choose respondents and the frame so that you don’t have to question any fundamental rights. For example, don’t ask questions such as “Should LGBTQ people have freedom of expression?”, “Should people of other ethnicities have a right to buy property in Georgia?” Remember that people are equal, in spite of the differences between them. Inviting respondents who want to negate those rights and use hate speech cannot be explained by balancing views. Balance is only formal in this case and causes negative attitudes to escalate.
  • If you invite people who will probably use hate speech, prepare for opposing them. Think about how to stop their discrimination, how to explain to the audience that these attitudes are unacceptable towards other groups.
  • It is expected that users of hate speech will provide facts that you are unable to check at that point. Therefore, try to watch their previous speeches, see what arguments they have, prepare counter questions and do not let them to deviate from the topic.

Comments of respondents

  • The journalist is responsible to choose the respondent and to choose their speeches’ part. Therefore, it is important to analyze what results will follow the phrase and whether it will cause discrimination or not. 
  • Before using the phrase in your material, evaluate its author, their influence, type of platform they use and how they will influence the audience, whether they will support stigmas and stereotypes.
  • When publishing public space recordings with audio check whether it is sharing hate speech unintentionally.
  • Edit the quote of the respondent so that you do not have to support hate speech. The exception is when the material is about the usage of hate speech, for example by a public figure.

Live Coverage

When working in live transmission, respondent might use hate speech unexpectedly and it cannot be edited. In this case journalist should:

  •  Ask the respondent to not use discriminatory and hate speech phrases;
  • Mention that it is unacceptable for the editorial group to use hate speech and discriminate against the certain group and they do not stand with the respondent;
  • Stop talking to the respondent if they continue using such phrases.
Media has a big challenge with the edition of Facebook Live function because now every violent demonstration can be transmitted via social networks with no editing required. In this case, journalist should use the same rules as with the TV channel live transmissions:

  • Do not let respondents use hate speech and discrimination. For this, it is necessary that at every moment journalist is commenting on what type of demonstration is going on. The audience needs to get information about the leaders of the demonstration.
  • A journalist should describe the demonstration so that it is clear that the editorial group does not stand with these messages.
  • If it is possible, record the comments of discriminatory people’s opponents and show them to the audience during the live. The recordings should include the counter-arguments, ideas on why hate speech is unacceptable. This will make live more balanced.
  • Be careful when describing the participants of the demonstration. Try to use descriptions that are based on facts and can be proven. In there are phrases that are against LGBTQ community, you can call the demonstrating people homophobes. If there is discrimination against other nations, call them xenophobic. It should be clear to the audience why the demonstrators are homophobes, xenophobes, fascist or ultra-nationalistic. 

Social Media and Comments

Often, we have cases when covering sensitive issues that there are comments on social media pages using hate speech. Real people and trolls and bots are commenting together, which faces a new challenge for media.

According to Charter practice, media company is responsible for every material and comment on their platform. Most of the media companies, though, do not have the resource to assign one person for comment control and moderation, which needs to be acknowledged when assessing media companies for efforts to fight against hate speech. It is important that media uses every resource for their platform not to be used for hate speech. For this, they should:

  • Try to have moderation on comments on the webpages, the ability to delete hate speech comments or restrict commenting function.
  • If you are publishing an article that might cause comments with hate speech to appear or if you notice that your comment feed is used for hate speech and you cannot regulate it, it’s better to turn to comment off. This will not be considered as a restriction of freedom of expression, because hate speech is not protected with the same standard as other forms of expression. Mention, that discriminatory and hate speech using comments will be deleted by administration. This will warn the audience that it is unacceptable to use such language and they will not be surprised if the comment is deleted. If they are on your platform, they should follow your rules.
It is harder to moderate comments on social networks, especially when trolls and bots are active. In this case, before moderating each one of them, it is better to note the words which will be restricted on your page. This will have you avoid worst cases of discrimination until you can moderate all comments.


  • Videos, photos, data are important parts for storytelling. But without context this information can be an object of interpretation and manipulation. Therefore, visual material should tell the whole story and not only one part of it.
  • Pay attention to data. Only numbers, with no labels can cause audience to form incorrect perceptions.

Questions that journalists should ask themselves:

  • Is there public interest about this news?
  • Who uses hate speech and with what aims? Are they supported by facts?
  • Does the respondent have evidence to support their claims? 
  • Will we avoid strengthening stereotypes and stigma through publishing this? Did we ask every relevant question? 
  • Is there a variety of respondents present and do the representatives of the groups talk themselves?
  • Did we choose correct language for telling this story?
  • Is the coverage in accordance with ethical standards?


  • DW Akademie - Reporting hate speech – practical tips for journalists 
  • Ethical Journalism Network - Hate speech A 5 point test for journalists
  • #MediaAgainstHate - Guidelines for countering online hate speech
According to Ninth Principle of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, editorial content should be strictly separated from marketing, advertising, and sponsored materials. The main goal of the principle is to prevent media from misleading the audience – from providing information as verified and confirmed while it is published in exchange for a certain fee. According to the Charter's practice, media outlets shall be responsible for all information that is spread through their platforms. Therefore, if a commercial content is published as an editorial material without a proper marking, the editorial office shall be responsible for the contents. The media is accountable to the audience and should respect the right of the public to receive accurate information rather than misleading and unverified advertising content.

Basically, all types of media outlets allocate advertising time and place – banners or commercials are entirely different from a journalistic material in terms of form and contents, therefore, it is less likely that anyone will perceive them as editorial material. In contrast, problematic is the material that does not differ from journalistic content, for example, it has the form of an article or footage is prepared, etc. At such time the audience may easily believe that the information provided with no proper labeling has been checked by the editor, for example, a product is really the best.

Consequently, instead of using confusing symbols, it is important to indicate that the material is an advertisement.

Basic rules:

• Media organizations must ensure editorial independence from commercial influence. The influence means changing the airtime or publication timeframes, idea, a footage storyline, respondents, presenter’s behaviour, shooting angle, location or other key details as desired by the customer.

• It should be clear to the public that they are receiving information of commercial content.

• Any material prepared and published as commercial content must be strictly distinct from the editorial material. It must be accompanied by a proper labeling in an easily detectable place and form.

• Any material without a relevant marking shall be considered as a content of the editorial responsibility.

• The editorial office should have in place a policy for distinguishing between advertising and editorial content, which must become the basis of signing agreements with advertisers or service purchasers. In addition, advertising and editorial departments should be clearly separated.

• When promoting commercial content within the scope of any advertising agreement, no further editorial support should be provided for a company or a product.

Financed content

It is a common practice to publish content in the form of an article that is paid for commercially, which can misinform readers because of the lack of an appropriate marking.

• Contents developed in online and printed media based on an agreement should be accompanied by an indication of funding in an easy-to-read place and manner. The labels such as "Partner Content", NS, R, "Associate’s Material", etc. are confusing to the reader. It is better to apply the labeling like "Advertising"/"Commercial Article", "Advertising Page". It is not recommended to indicate on the last page of a newspaper or a website that certain pages / columns are funded. The marking must be added to an article itself.

• The editorial office should be transparency-oriented. If it is impossible to identify a customer in a commercial content, the editor should clearly indicate the client.

• If the content provided by the customer contains specific accusations against another person, or it is obvious that the purpose of the content is to discredit a person, the editorial office must make a decision on the publication of such content based on their editorial policy.

• As for broadcasters, advertising a product or a service in a news programme is both unethical as well as illegal. A part of the international media has such restrictions regarding the programmes that provide the public with news about business and economics.

• When placing an advertising content or footage, or selling the airtime in a programme that is not a news programme, the broadcaster must inform the audience that the material is commercial. Subtitling can be used for this purpose.

Product placement

Product placement is the inclusion of a product within a programme for a commercial purpose, for example, placing a banner, using branded items, etc.

• According to the legislation, product placement is allowed only in feature films, television films, soap-operas, film episodes (except for documentaries), sports and entertainment programmes (except for children's programmes), lotteries, gambling games, goods/services provision as a prize free of charge or without economical benefits.

• In such programmes products can be placed, but under relevant rules - it is impermissible to promote a product and its advantages and encourage public to purchase it. No specific address, product price, discount, slogan or other details should not be indicated, as they are a part of advertisement. • It is prohibited to place medicines and medications that are issued under prescription.

• It is not permitted a presenter to persuade viewers to purchase a product by referring to his/her own experience, for example, "I've been using this shampoo for a month and I'm excited by the result," "I advise you to buy this juice. My daughter starts her morning with it. It’s a completely natural product. "

• A positive assessment provided by a presenter or encouraging viewers to buy the product is particularly unacceptable and unethical when it comes to health. The presenter’s persuasive promotion of medications, self-care products, nutrition, and other products may lead to deplorable consequences.


Sponsorship is a direct or indirect funding or co-financing of the preparation of a programme or a live broadcasting of a programme with a view to promoting a sponsor’s name, trademark, image, and activities. Sponsorship should be strictly distinct from advertising because it directly funds particular media content.

• Similarly to product placement, the sponsor must not distort contents of the funded material.

• Sponsorship of information-political programmes must be prohibited, as well as of those which are related to consumer rights, electoral campaigns.

• The audience should clearly identify the sponsor by means of his/her name, commodity or other identifying marking at the beginning, in the course and / or at the end of the programme.

• Sponsorship must not include the invitation to purchase a product or a service.

• Content and rubrics that provide reviews or advice on various products and companies cannot be sponsored by organizations whose products or services are likely to be reviewed.

Participation of journalists in advertising
• With the view to ensuring impartiality, a journalist or a presenter of news programmes, public-political and pre-election debates may not be permitted to participate in advertising or teleshopping.

• The same standard must be applied to commercials disseminated by broadcasting or other media platforms.
Journalistic products are accompanied by mistakes and incorrect details, which in some cases are the result of time constrains, inattentiveness, lack of professionalism, lack of experience or other factors. Responsible media, for which the trust of the audience and reputation is important, tries to promptly correct the mistake and work to share true information.

In case of incorrect information being published, the editorial group has a challenge to share the corrected information with the same audience who got the incorrect information in the first place. The correction can take different forms, according to the way the information was shared, the scale of the audience and the length that it was available.

1. Main Principles
  • Journalists and editors have to take responsibility for their mistakes and correct them.
  • Audience has to understand what was corrected and what was false and is true.
  • If the events are ongoing and new details will be revealed, it is necessary to say that the information is renewed.
  • The responsibility for the mistake has to be shared between the journalist and editorial group and if possible, the reason should be explained.
  • The correction has to be made in the reasonable time. The time is dependent upon the type of the media and scale of the audience, therefore is individual, according to the context.
  • Editorial group needs to be attentive to the comments made on different platforms by the audience, which shows the mistake.
  • According to the practices of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics, the message about the mistake can be made in any form to the journalist or the editorial group. It will be considered a violation of the correction rule if it becomes known that they knew after publishing the information that it was not true but did not correct it.
  • The editorial group has to decide how to react, when to correct/not correct the material, who has to make a decision, etc. after acknowledging that there was a mistake made. It is preferential that organizations have their own guidelines of this procedure.
  • It is better if the company’s official web-page has special part where audience can send the information about mistakes.

2. Online Media

2.1. Correction

  • The published information should be corrected in a way that notifies the audience of the correction. Where it is possible and does not damage anybody, it should be noted what was incorrect in the first place.
  • When changing the headline, the media should check that it is corrected on every platform where it was shared. Pay attention to the URL of the link, which in many cases is similar to the headline and correct it too.
  • In case of correcting the photo, make sure that it is not searchable on any platform of the media.
  • Use Facebook tools to correct the link, for the incorrect link not to be shareable anymore.

You can also renew the shared material on Facebook without deleting it. 

2.2. Deletion

  • Fully deleting the material is the last resort. It can be done when there is no public interest present and it violates somebody’s rights or ethical standards.
  • Material can be deleted instead of correcting it when you are the only open source of the information. If others also shared the information, it is better to correct it.
  • It is preferable for the media to explain the reason of such decision.
  • If in the following days new details are revealed which change the previously shared information, it is better to create a new material and make a link in the previous one about the newer version having been published. (სურათი)

3. Broadcasting Media

  • The broadcaster has to openly and immediately state that a mistake was made and correct it in an equal form. For example, if the mistake was made in prime time in the main news show, it has to be corrected in the same show next day. The equal form of correction depends on the case relevancy and in some cases it might be better to correct the mistake in the next news show.
  • Official web-page can be used to correct the information promptly.
  • In case of internet broadcasted video, it has to be re-uploaded with the correction on the official webpage and corrected on every platform according to the rules stated in the guidelines for online media.
  • According to the code of broadcasters, a person, who was the target of incorrect information, can address the media in 10 days after the broadcasting and request for the mistake to be corrected in equal form or for the information to be denied in the same length and approximately the same manner of the incorrect statement.
4. Printed Media

  • In case of press the equal form and measure are also important. If the incorrect information was printed on the first page of the newspaper, it is preferable for the correction to also be printed on the first page of the next issue. It has to be made clear that information in the previous issue was incorrect.
  • The standard of correction for printed media is the same as the online media.
  • If the mistake is grave, the editorial group can neglect to wait for the next issue and correct the mistake on their official webpage or social network pages.
Earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes – media has to cover these natural disasters quite often. The importance of being informed is more prominent in these situations. Audience waits for the new information. The correctness of disseminated information is critical, especially in the first stage of the disaster. While working on these topics, journalists also have to take care of their own safety. The editorial board has to be sure that a journalist, in addition to being professional, is also physically and psychologically prepared to cover natural disasters.

Recommendations to editorial board:
  • It is better to have a special protocol for the journalists working in the field and journalists staying in the office;
  • Journalists have to be equipped with special apparel and safety equipment, according to the disaster type;
  • Transportation, food and other technical issues need to be taken care of. Evacuation plan needs to be prepared including the transportation used for it.
  • It is important that editorial board has information about other media companies in the disaster zone. In case of losing connection to their own crew, they can contact others.
When arriving on the field, journalist has to try to:
  • Find as much information as possible about the incident. They can ask help with this to the local journalists.
  • Create a database of contacts of responsible institutions, experts, interested parties and locals, who may have additional information.
  • Have contact information of every person whom he/she might need for help
  • Determine the working location as well as the location to stay for the night, if such need arises.
  • Study the surrounding area and place. It is necessary to have a printed-out map and a map application which works without internet connection and has markers for the epicenter of the disaster, hospitals, shelters and help centers. Journalist needs to have first aid kit with him/her.
  • Check chargers, adapters, memory cards, accessories which he/she may need. It is better to have more than 1 sim card, in case one of the networks has a problem.
  • Have a contact person, subordination system; know whose orders to follow
  • If a journalist working in the field thinks, that it is dangerous to go to certain location, even if editor-in-chief asks to go there, he/she can leave the workplace, provide arguments for this decision and inform superiors. Safety of the journalist is a priority.

Technical Details

  • Check the weather forecast and choose comfortable clothing
  • Shoes have to be closed, comfortable. In case of flooding – waterproof, light and high.
  • Trousers and tops are better to be light, neutral colors (don’t wear khakis or cloths like military uniform). Do not wear jeans, because they are uncomfortable and heavy when wet.
  • Take a raincoat with you
  • Take a medical face mask or a scarf, which you can use to protect from smoke, dust or gas.
  • It is not recommended to have expensive accessories (watches, jewelry) with you. Living Place
  • When choosing a place to spend night, prioritize safety. Depending on the situation this can be a famous (brand) hotel or a private house.
  • It is better if the flat is not far from civilization, does not stand alone or on a street, which is a dead end and does not have open connection on two ends.
  • After choosing a place, study all the exits of the building.
  • Walk the roads which are populated. Do not stray away from them. Inform the media company about going out preemptively. Workplace
  • Don’t stand near trees, because in hurricanes and fires there is a chance of branches and tree falling. A tree can also be struck by the lightning.
  • Stay away from places covered with water where electric cables can be places. Don’t walk without shoes.
  • In case of fire, windows in the car have to be closed and the door unlocked. Ventilation has to be turned off. Control the direction of the wind. Stay away from the fire.

Content Part

Tone of coverage
  • Gossip chances, speculations and invented stories are frequent in disasters. Therefore, verified information is important. Incorrect information may confuse and endanger people in the disaster zone. It is a challenge for journalists not to create unfounded fear and panic in society while delivering the information. The tone of the coverage must be as calm as possible.
  • In disasters journalists often have a hard time drawing a line between activism and professionalism. It is important to understand your role precisely. Maintaining balance is necessary while trying to help injured people. Don’t forget that you are not a part of the humanitarian help mission.
  • Editorial board has to define when to switch to state of emergency regime, how to cover events on different platforms – social media, official web-page, auxiliary web-pages, etc.
  • While working in emergency regime, try to share verified information to avoid speculation and panic. If journalist has to share unverified information, this needs to be stated clearly to the audience. Pay attention to those who say that they are eyewitnesses. Ask them details and make sure that they saw what they are talking about themselves.
  • There is higher risk of sharing fake audio-visual materials in disasters. Check the materials sent in by the citizens. You need to make sure that the information is correct. See: The guidelines of using social media.

Try to find out
  • Details that will help citizens;
  • Risks for human life
  • Institutions responsible for helping, informing, preparing citizens, etc.
  • Amount of damage and government’s plans/events to help the injured.

Interacting with injured people
  • People injured from disasters often appear in the center of media attention without trying or being aware of it. In such instances it is important to respect their privacy and not to invade their personal space.
See: Guidelines of privacy
  • Try not to use the material which will offend an injured person. Look at how they are depicted in the material. You need to have a balance of public interest and sharing the material which depicts human suffering.
  • When interviewing a person consider their emotions. Don’t force them to remember details which will cause them trauma.
  • Don’t stay in their property if they ask you to leave.
  • Don’t follow them if they ask you not to.
  • Don’t bother them with frequent calls, messages and waiting outside of their home. Tell them which media company you represent.
  • It is necessary to have a permission to record a funeral. In other cases, editorial board must prove that there was a high public interest.

Visual materials
  • When sharing sensitive material (view of injured, deceased people) online or broadcasting media has to warn audience about it. Press has to avoid using such images on the cover and front pages.
  • Manipulation of video/audio footage is unacceptable. When reconstructing an event, it has to be clear that the situation is staged.
  • You have to think what results can sharing disturbing images, over and over or at length, cause.
  • When a media is describing disaster results again, they have to think whether it is worth to show images again which depict human suffering. Think of emotions of survivors and their families.