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“Funny Is How We Got Here: When Journalists Amplify Hate”

Whitney Phillips (@wphillips49) joined Ana (@anamariecox) to talk about her recent work, The Oxygen of Amplification, which chronicles the battle journalists face to report on extremism without amplifying it. Ana and Whitney began by talking about why the word “troll” is problematic, and why we ought to stop using it: “It collapses that extreme, sort of violent behavior with behavior that is more performative, sort of playful.”


Early in their conversation, Ana and Whitney dove into the central paradox of that battle: that it’s almost impossible to report on extremism without normalizing and spreading it: “You don’t know if light is going to disinfect or if light is going to simply illuminate.”


Another part of that paradox is that for an uninitiated journalist, it is all too easy to get duped into spreading misinformation: “Those stories weren’t just problematic in that they normalized and treated as an equivalent ideology white supremacist leanings and white nationalism, but they also so easily fell into media manipulation traps.”


They also discussed one of the central problems of this reporting and reporting in general: newsrooms are overwhelmingly white, male, Christian, cis, and able-bodied. Because those people are the ones least at risk from white supremacists, they’re (*shocker*) who white supremacists will talk to, and the most likely to downplay threats from white supremacy. After touching on Unite The Right 2.0, Ana played assignment editor and suggested different directions to take a Nazi Next Door™story.


You can find Whitney’s book here.


Get in touch with us on Twitter at @crooked_friends, or email the show at withfriendslikepod@gmail.com.

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