ARTICLE: How online harassment influences the work of female journalists

Picture: Subway by Hernán Piñera, license CC BY-SA 2.0

Female journalists face rampant online harassment, across different cultures, new study states. Researchers interviewed 75 female journalists who have worked in Germany, India, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Engaging with audiences online through comment sections or social media, is often a job requirement for journalists. The harassment disrupts the reciprocity between journalists and audience, as it limits how these women can interact with the audience without being attacked, the researchers write.

Analysis of the interviews brought forward three themes: 1) abuse and delegitimizing strategies, 2) strategies for dealing with harassment, and 3) cultural differences.

Criticism of the journalists’ work is often framed as misogynistic attacks and, sometimes, even involves sexual violence. Television reporters reported more incidences of harassment than journalists in other media.

24 of the interviewees reported specific strategies for dealing with the issues. These include limiting what to post online, ignoring comments, changing what stories to report on and even using technological tools to prevent people from posting offensive words on the journalists’ social media pages.

Harassment was evident across the countries. There were cultural differences in how much the journalists were expected to engage online. Also support gained from colleagues differed.

Authors of the article are:

  • Gina Masullo Chen and Paromita Pain of the University of Texas at Austin
  • Victoria Y Chen of National Chung Cheng University
  • Madlin Mekelburg of El Paso Times and
  • Nina Springer and Franziska Troger of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

The article “‘You really have to have a thick skin’” was published in Journalism and is available on the publisher’s website (free abstract).

Picture: Subway by Hernán Piñera, license CC BY-SA 2.0

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