Brave journalists tell of online abuse: November update

One of the most powerful - and challenging - sessions from this year's News Xchange in Amsterdam was the conversation hosted and moderated by INSI director Hannah Storm on the topic of cyber bullying and its effects on threatening, sometimes to the point of silencing, journalists' voices.

The panel comprised Dr Anthea Butler, Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Pennsylvania; Mary Hamilton, former Executive Editor for Audiences at The Guardian; and Alexandra Pascalidou, filmmaker and journalist.

The session opened with a shocking video with examples of real threats and comments directed at journalists, almost exclusively on Twitter. Over the course of the next hour, Hannah guided a candid, often painful discussion with each of the women, focusing on the brutality and effects of cyber abuse on freedom of speech. Both Butler and Pascalidou have had extensive experience with bullying: racism, misogyny, threats of physical harm, threats of rape and lynching.

Hamilton shared five key points from her work with journalists and senior management at The Guardian on specific ways to cope with this happening to a journalist.

It was perhaps the fifth and final point that registered most powerfully with the nearly 600 News Xchange delegates: that addressing and coping with this very real threat to press freedom is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation; it starts at the top and continues through the middle layer of front line management. And there are no exceptions.

News Xchange thanks these brave, articulate and powerful women for not only sharing their stories but for pushing for constructive, proactive practices within their own institutions and, even more to the point, with the social networks themselves. News Xchange is proud to have provided the platform for the start of vital discussions among INSI, journalists, Twitter and Facebook.

Watch a film of Hannah's session here.

By Amy Selwyn, the managing director of News Xchange and an INSI board member

Another new INSI member: Schibsted Sweden 7th news outlet to join this year

INSI has another new member, our seventh this year.

The Swedish arm of the Schibsted Media Group joins a growing network of INSI members including Reuters, the BBC, Swedish Radio, CNN, Al Jazeera and many more of the world’s top news outlets.

Schibsted, which has 7,300 employees in 22 countries, owns the leading newspapers in Sweden – Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet.

This year we were thrilled to expand our network and welcome Al Arabiya, Associated Press, Bonnier, TV4, the GroundTruth Project and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR).

“We're delighted to welcome our Swedish colleagues at Schibsted to be part of INSI's network,” said Hannah Storm, INSI Director.

“The threats faced by journalists around the world are vast and varied and we look forward to working closely with Schibsted to help support its journalists when they are faced with challenging, difficult and dangerous working environments. We're also looking forward to them sharing their expertise as every new member to our organisation increases the amount of knowledge and information we can share to help colleagues around the world stay safe physically, psychologically and online.”

INSI board member calls for end to impunity for crimes against journalists

Every fourth day, a journalist is killed. In nine cases of ten the guilty goes unpunished. Every attack on a journalist is an attack on our democracy.

According to UNESCO, 930 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2016.  2017 follows the same violent pattern. In January, two journalists were killed in a bombing in Afghanistan. In May, an award-winning journalist investigating organized crime was found dead in Mexico. And just a week ago, a radio journalist in the Philippines was killed; likely due to a political corruption scandal that the journalist was investigating.

Unfortunately, statistics also show that the perpetrators in nine out of ten cases are not going to be sentenced for the crime. This is very serious as it implies that the media can continuously be harassed and attacked. If we want a free and open society, we cannot allow this to continue. Every attack on a journalist is an attack on our democracy.

Read the full article here.

Cilla Benkö is the Director General of Swedish Radio and an INSI board member.

INSI in Berlin

INSI members gathered in Berlin in November for the latest in our series of regional members meetings. It focused on covering far right and left groups and followed on from a successful meeting earlier this year at which more than 20 members discussed covering attacks in the UK and mainland Europe.

Image by Stefano Santucci