Women Journalists and Online Harassment

Women Journalists and Online Harassment

A majority of women journalists face the threat of online harassment when engaging with audiences on social media as part of their jobs, a report from the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication finds. Based on interviews with seventy-five female journalists in Germany, India, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., the report, Women Journalists and Online Harassment (HTML or 6 pages, PDF), found that most women in the sample — especially among television journalists — had experienced online harassment that was not a criticism of their work but rather focused on their person, gender, and/or sexuality, including threats of sexual violence. According to the study, the online abuse was most intense when women reported on topics traditionally associated with men such as cars or video games, as well as on politically divisive topics such as immigration, race, and feminism. About a third of interviewees cited strategies for dealing with harassment, including using word-blocker functions or having a colleague moderate comments — and in some cases avoiding topics or details that could spark online reactions that might escalate into abuse. Most interviewees also felt their organizations could provide better training focused on preventing and/or handling online harassment, more stringent moderation of comments and their social media pages, and more support for female employees who've been harassed.

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