OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

08/14/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/14/2019 03:59

OSCE Mission to Montenegro-supported training course on moderation of online user’s comments

To support media outlets in moderating online comments, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro organized a six-day training course for five media outlets from Montenegro from 12 to 17 August 2019 in Podgorica.

Stephen Herrmann, the former editorial director of the BBC's Monitoring Service, worked with journalists on international best practices when moderating users' comments. The course was based on 'Guidelines for the Moderation of Users' Comments' and the Code of Ethics, both developed under the auspices of the Mission.

Opening the training, Herrmann said that he was pleased to share his expertise with news organisations in Montenegro, to help them address the opportunities and challenges of managing interactivity and comments on news websites and social media platforms.

'There are great opportunities and also real difficulties in moderating comments while respecting freedom of expression and promoting debate without descending into abuse and intolerance,' said Herrmann.

Daniel Blank, the OSCE Media Programme Manager, said that in today's world media outlets offer new and exciting opportunities for online dialogue and interaction with their audiences.' Users' comments can sometimes be abusive and cross over into hate speech and incitement to violence - including gender-based discrimination,' he said.

'Such comments not only damage the media's reputation but may also expose the publisher to a legal action for promoting hate speech. The line between free speech and hate speech can be difficult to navigate, moderators of media portals have an important but challenging role in professionally managing inappropriate comments, in line with international standards,' said Blank.

Supporting a healthy, democratic, independent and professional media environment in Montenegro is very much at the heart of the Mission's Media programme. In March this year, the Mission supported the development of guidelines which elaborate on the rules, ethical standards and guidance on how to moderate readers' comments on internet portals.