The National Union of Journalists is staging a conference this week on how journalists should respond to the rise of the British National Party.
The far-right party's recent successes in the European and council elections have posed a dilemma over how its activities should be reported. While some editors have taken the view in the past that all publicity is good publicity, and that therefore ignoring them is the best option, others such as Paul Horrocks of the Manchester Evening News, have sought to confront the party's ideas head-on.
Now the union is calling on its members to join the debate, beginning with an event at its London headquarters on Thursday evening.
"The BNP's election victories have brought a new urgency to questions about how journalists should report fascists and racists," said a statement on the union's website. "There is a danger that racist ideas that ten years ago would have been considered unacceptable could become part of the daily business of politics."
One editor who has recently blogged about the dilemma is Keith Perch of the Leicester Mercury which has just seen the election of a BNP councillor on its patch in Coalville.
"Until now, we have mostly ignored them, but I sense that we have reached a tipping point and that it makes more sense now to challenge their policies and be sure that those voting for them know exactly what they are voting for," he wrote. "I blogged about this dilemma - to report or to ignore - previously and received a reasonable amount of feedback, almost all of which came down on the side of reporting, with the notable exception of someone employed full-time to worry about social cohesion who felt that it was still best to ignore. With the election of a BNP county councillor, we have decided that we cannot ignore the situation."
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