The Role of News in Combating Extremism Recruiting

Extremist ideology – centered on anti-semitism, white supremacy, anti-immigration and radical anti-democratic government beliefs – is increasingly becoming part of mainstream political speech. In the United States, white supremacist groups have sparked acts of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; and the United States Capitol. Even in the face of these acts, extremist messaging is regularly reinforced by political candidates and members of Congress. Globally, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, France, Spain, New Zealand and many other countries are facing a rise in far-right groups gaining a foothold in national politics.

Journalists have struggled in covering these issues. While covering extremism is an important part of accountability reporting, coverage can run the risk of amplifying and normalizing dangerous rhetoric and hate speech resulting in increasingly extreme views entering mainstream discourse.

In this featured plenary session we’ll tackle this issue head on, asking how journalists can cover this trend in a responsible and meaningful way, how hate speech “spills over” from private social media channels to large public forums, and how it has been evolving to anti-trans rhetoric and more. In short, what should we expect as many cities and countries enter critical elections in the next few years?

A video archive of this session will be available upon request. Request video archive by emailing


This session is designed for:

  • Everyone and anyone interested in learning about the extremist undercurrent running through US politics and culture today


Hannah Allam
national security reporter, The Washington Post

Patrick Boehler
Head of Innovation and Audience Engagement, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
@boehlerpatrickVisit Website

Dana Coester
Editor-in-Chief, 100 Days in Appalachia

Lewis Wallace
Abolition Journalism Fellow, Interrupting Criminalization
@lewispantsVisit Website

Odette Yousef
National Security Correspondent on Extremism, NPR
@oyousefVisit Website


Ryan Howzell
Research Program Coordinator, PEN America