View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
February 18, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:56am

New guidance to protect journalists from online abuse calls for ‘culture of safety’ in newsroom

By Charlotte Tobitt

Journalists who are targeted by online harassment should be empowered to report and share abuse aimed at “silencing them and discrediting their work”, the International Press Institute has said.

The IPI has launched a new four-step framework to encourage newsrooms to better protect their journalists when they face online harassment.

It described such online abuse as a “threat to press freedom” that takes a “professional and emotional toll” on the journalists.

The launch came just days before tabloid journalists faced online abuse following ex-Love Island host Caroline Flack’s death, as some drew a link between news coverage and her suicide.

Mirror, Express and Star publisher Reach issued advice to staff yesterday, including an offer to remove links to their Twitter pages from their website bylines.

The IPI represents editors, media executives and senior journalists from around the world. It said the protocol was drawn up in response to research examining best practice at 45 newsrooms in the UK, Finland, Germany, Poland and Spain.

The first step news organisations should take, the IPI said, is to create a “culture of safety within the newsroom around online abuse and establishing clear channels to report it”.

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

All staff members should know how to report abuse, and an online safety coordinator should be appointed to receive such reports and escalate them where necessary.

Newsrooms should then be able to assess the risk of physical, psychological or reputational harm to the journalist and reputational damage to the media outlet itself through smear campaigns.

They ought to offer support of various types, whether digital security, legal or emotional, and finally track cases to assess how effective their responses have been, the IPI said.

Javier Luque, programme coordinator for IPI’s project to assess online harassment against journalists, said: “The guidelines provide media organisations with specific tools to create a culture of safety in newsrooms around online abuse, one that empowers journalists to report and share the abuse and smear campaigns that aim at silencing them and discrediting their work.”

The BBC’s director of editorial policy, David Jordan, sits on the IPI executive board, as does British Journalism Review editor Kim Fletcher and well-respected Filipino journalist Maria Ressa who is facing multiple libel trials and a maximum of 83 years in prison.

BBC director-general Tony Hall recently put the onus on social media companies to “do more” to tackle the “sickening” abuse aimed at the corporation’s journalists during the general election campaign.

Picture: Lisa Fotios/ Pexels

Topics in this article : ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network