New guidelines for journalists who face online harassment and abuse

The Media Lawyers’ Association (MLA) and the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have just published a new guide for journalists who face online harassment and abuse. The guide includes a clear definition of online abuse, a list of all possible steps an abused journalist can take, and information around the timing to pursue legal action. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes this new guide, which represents a valuable and comprehensive resource to assist journalists facing online violence in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world.

"Threats to journalist safety may take many forms. The “new frontline”, as described in a recent UNESCO report, is online harassment and abuse. This phenomenon, of online targeting of journalists, has been described as “one of the gravest threats to press freedom.” The global picture is bleak: 2/3 of women journalists across the world have experienced online abuse according to an IFJ 2018 survey. Aggressive cyber-harassment campaigns against journalists are waged globally, including in democratic countries which have strong traditions of protecting media freedom."

The guide has been written by Beth  Grossman,  a  barrister at  Doughty  Street  Chambers specializing in media law and with strategic input by Caoilfhionn  Gallagher  QC,  a leading  NUJ’s expert in international human rights law and the safety of journalists.

The guide contains practical tips and explains all the possible ways of action for journalists facing online harassment and abuse in all its forms.

The guide is part of the ongoing work undertaken by the United Kingdom’s National Committee for the Safety of Journalists which brings together representatives from government, journalism, policing, prosecution services and civil society to work in collaboration to make sure journalists in the UK are able to operate free from threats and violence. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) takes part in the committee and has welcomed the publication of the guidance.

Global Unions, including the IFJ, have recently published a toolkit to help eradicate violence and harassment, including online abuse, in the world of work.

The IFJ also published a list of tips to report harassment and abuse on social media platforms.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We praise the work from our British affiliate, the NUJ to contribute to the publishing of such an excellent resource. We believe this document will provide real practical assistance to journalists in combating online threats and abuse and call on all the IFJ affiliates to share it among their members”.

Click here to download the guide

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

Follow the IFJ on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

Subscribe to IFJ News