In 1000 words: winning essays on hate speech

By Jane Whyatt

No one wants to get hate speech, dogpile emoticons, bodyshaming photos or trolls with political paymasters in their news feeds. Journalists have to face them all the time in their daily work. How should we deal with this?

Winning essays: 2017 Young Writers contest

Saskia Solomon

Lorcan Crone

If we ban certain people, certain words or websites, isn’t that censorship? Therefore, that is the big question we put to Europe’s young people, to tell us what they think: should we be free to hate? Our 2017 Young Writers contest attracted over 70 entries in five languages from all over Europe. And now our jury of experienced journalists has picked the winners.

Taking the Newcomer prize for the best entry in the 18-27 year olds category is Saskia Solomon, a British student of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Born in London, she grew up in Paris and Brighton. Thanks to a university grant, she is curating a special project of her own. The Future Reference anthology is a collection of essays authored by students at British and American universities on the politics of 2016 and 2017. She says she has observed that the students seem to hold back on expressing strong views.

Saskia Solomon Saskia Solomon. Photo: Saskia Solomon

Saskia comments:

While it is evident that bending the facts to make unfounded accusations and spreading untruths is wrong, I see no problem in a well-researched attack on the status quo - tolerance of which I think is key to a healthy society.

Saskia’s prize is an expenses-paid trip to the ECPMF’s Newsocracy3 conference in Madrid on 30 January 2018.

The winner of the Youth category for 12–17 year olds is twelve-year-old Lorcan Crone from London. Lorcan attends Finchley Catholic High School and lives in North London.

Should we be free to hate? Lorcan Crone. Photo: Crone family album.

Lorcan says:

”I feel strongly about free speech as it gives people a feeling that they are free, even if they are not. It is a good value in society, and free speech allows more political freedom. It allows people to feel that differing opinions are allowed, that they are natural and should not be repressed. Although this has failed on some of the more political extremes, these people are usually in the minority.”

Lorcan’s prize is a one-year subscription to a quality outlet of his choice, and he has chosen The New Statesman.

Both articles impressed the judges. They are: ECPMF Executive Board Chair Henrik Kaufholz, an award-winning veteran Danish journalist with Politiken and founder of the SCOOP investigative journalism fund, Vesselin Dimitrov, Deputy Editor of Forbes Bulgaria and Secretary of the ECPMF Supervisory Board, and Aleksei Bobrovnikov, an exiled investigative journalist from Ukraine who was a speaker at the ECPMF 2017 conference. Congratulations!

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