Fair game? Journalists’ experiences of online abuse

Binns, Amy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9173-3108 (2017) Fair game? Journalists’ experiences of online abuse. Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies, 6 (2). pp. 183-206. ISSN 2001-0818

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1386/ajms.6.2.183_1


Online abuse of journalists through comments below articles or on Twitter is now ubiquitous. The tough-minded industry culture means it has generally been dismissed as unimportant, however high-profile cases of rape and bomb threats have given it greater significance. This research, based on a survey of 267 journalists and four detailed interviews, sought to establish what effect it had on them and their behaviour. Results showed women were more likely than men to report often receiving insults or threats, and had stronger emotional reactions to abuse. News reporters were more likely to report abuse than other sectors of the industry, and were more likely to report problems with online gangs. Many described their powerlessness when targeted by organised gangs. Some respondents described serious problems offline and online, including leaving jobs and self-censoring due to fear of abuse.

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