Following its launch last week of the first database on online harassment against journalists, the International Press Institute (IPI) today published “Voices against Online Harassment”, a series of video interviews with journalists targeted by abuse and threats online, and with experts on the matter.
“The goal of this project is to raise awareness on an issue that often goes unreported by those journalists targeted with threats online and, sometimes, is even belittled by media houses, as though intimidation on social media platforms is just one of the nuisances journalists have to deal with as part of their jobs,” IPI Digital Media Coordinator Javier Luque said.
“Voices Against Online Harassment” features five interviews to be presented in individual chapters in the coming weeks. More videos will be released in the following months as part of IPI’s ongoing effort on advocate for a safer digital environment for journalists.
In three videos, Austrian journalists Florian Klenk, Hanna Herbst and Jelena Gucenin describe their experience in coping with dozens of threatening messages on Facebook, which, they note, can be full of vitriol and a sexual-related abuse when directed at women journalists.
In another video, OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic emphasises the need for a unified front and political will in order to implement recommendations for combating online abuse of journalists that her office has been working on for months.
Beyond journalists and experts, presenting a unified front also requires the participation of media houses. To explore that further, IPI interviewed the head of community management at the website of Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Christian Burger, who explains how a dedicated team filters comments posted on the website to reduce journalists’ exposure to hatred.
“Voices Against Online Harassment” is part of IPI’s OnTheLine project, which tracks online harassment against journalists in three pilot countries: Turkey, Austria and Hungary. OnTheline particularly looks to identify coordinated online attacks that evidence shows to have been used by powerful state and non-state actors to silence critical reporting.
Luque explained: “By sharing the voices of journalists targeted with online threats, we might bring some relief to those who do not want to make their case public or report abuse to the police, as well as to help bring some light to the process of establishing guidelines to counter these types of attacks on media freedom.”