Facts can be hateful

"We are observing a radicalization"

MEDIA SERVICE: Which journalists contact the "Workplace Right-Wing Extremism and Violence"?

Caroline Paeßens: Mostly they are freelance journalists who do not have large editorial offices behind them - and therefore no team with which they can exchange ideas. If you would like to report on a right-wing extremist or right-wing populist demonstration, we will look together in advance: What is the threat situation on site? What do journalists have to fear? It is often an advantage if you team up with others, if in doubt, do not stray too far from the police, not park too far away, and keep an eye on arrival and departure problems.

And what do you do if there are attacks and hostility at demonstrations anyway?

First of all, we offer the journalists concerned an exchange - so that they know that they are not alone. We also seek talks with police authorities if journalists could not be optimally protected. This way, mistakes can be avoided in the future. It also happens that journalists are photographed at the demonstrations and their pictures end up on the Internet - sometimes in connection with calls for violence against them. We will then endeavor to ensure that the photos disappear quickly from the social networks. Here we cooperate with jugendschutz.net, who in turn go to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

CAROLINE PAEẞENS has been working for the "Work Center for Right-Wing Extremism and Violence" (ARUG) in Braunschweig since 2012. She advises those affected on how to deal with "hate speech" and offers workshops and training courses on the subject, also for journalists. She is also responsible for right-wing extremism.

How cooperative are social media platforms when it comes to having such photos deleted?

When we go through cooperation partners like jugendschutz.net, it always happens very quickly. Unfortunately, it works less well if you report such photos directly to the platforms, then it takes much longer or you get the message that it does not violate the guidelines.

Do you feel that hatred has increased in recent years?

Definitely. We advise significantly more people than we did a few years ago. Both the quantity and quality of hatred have increased. We are observing radicalization.

In the right-wing extremist scene or beyond?

As well ... as. We find that some hateful comments come from people who weren't on our screen - the proverbial neighbor next door. These can then be people who suddenly spread massive hate speech online.

One often hears that journalists should get a "thick skin". What do you think?

"Thick fur" is a catchphrase that I don't like to hear. Hate online and offline has a huge effect on those affected, on their private lives. You can't shake that off and say that everything is fine now. Not taking it seriously and saying, "Put on a thick skin" doesn't do it justice.

Interview: Mehmet Ata