At the heart of what is termed an "open society" is the idea that if all views get a fair hearing, and a platform is provided for debate, then individuals can decide for themselves what to believe and society can reach some sort of consensus. Is that really the case? Or does giving these movements a media platform grant them a degree of legitimacy that tells viewers that intolerant, racist or otherwise bigoted views are potentially of equal value to their opposite. 

Kyle Pope, editor in chief and publisher at the Columbia Journalism Review, says denying the far right the airtime is not a solution, "I don't think there is a good argument for keeping them out of the spotlight. You have to remember that these people have huge followings. We have to understand, like, where is the support coming from? And putting our heads in the sand and thinking that it's just gonna go away doesn't work. The more light, the better."

However, the responsibility of the media to give the far right this space and help the public understand their perspective also comes hand in hand with the delicate task of balancing permission and promotion. 

"If you're interviewing someone with extreme right views, you're actually giving him a stage in the media by doing so. In a society experiencing distinct tensions and movements, it would be absurd for a public broadcaster not to pay attention because their objective is to reflect society. But there is a difference between providing a platform and being permissive, and it can be hard to draw this line," Bas Heijne, a columnist with Dutch newspaper NRC.

Contributors:

Ash Sarkar, senior editor, Novara Media
Kyle Pope, editor-in-chief and publisher, Columbia Journalism Review
Bas Heijne, columnist, NRC
Padraig Reidy, editor, Little Atoms

Source: Al Jazeera