Working conditions

The UN points out that the torrent of online threats and abuse aimed at women journalists is not a good thing.

The avalanche of misogynistic abuse and threats is not only damaging women working in media, it is also weaponised “to undercut public trust in critical journalism and facts in general”, a report commissioned by the UN’s cultural agency Unesco has found.

‘The Chilling: Global Trends in Online Violence Against Women Journalists” draws on interviews with 901 journalists from 125 countries. Journalists from diverse backgrounds faced particularly intense attacks, as misogyny mixed with racism, homophobia, religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination, the report found. “Online violence against women journalists is designed to belittle, humiliate, and shame; induce fear, silence, and retreat; discredit them professionally, undermining accountability, journalism and trust in facts,” the report found, adding that it also aimed to freeze women out of public debate.

See also: Karens, TERFs.

In-depth case studies analyse more than 2.5 million posts on Facebook and Twitter directed at two prominent women journalists. The first is Maria Ressa who heads the news outlet Rappler in the Philippines, and was recently awarded the Unesco annual press freedom prize. Her reporting has made her a target of her country’s judiciary and online hate campaigns, and at one point she was receiving 90 hate messages an hour on Facebook, the report found.

The second is the award-winning Carole Cadwalladr who writes for the Observer and the Guardian in the UK. The report found more than 10,000 instances of obvious abuse on Twitter alone, nearly half laced with sexist and misogynistic language.

Well you can’t expect people to abuse women without sexist and misogynistic language. Tools for the job, innit.

[The report] also detailed how online violence is increasingly spilling offline. Case studies included the vandalising of an academy run by Sri Lankan journalist Sharmila Seyyid, and people coming to the home and workplace of April Ryan, White House correspondent for the Grio, specifically to abuse her.

The report analysed multiple forms of online violence, including threats of sexual and physical violence, harassing private messages, coordinated “dog-pile” attacks from large groups, hacking and “doxxing” – publishing personal information online.

As a result of the exposure of personal details, a number of journalists had to move home or even country, with cases in the US, Sri Lanka, the UK and South Africa.

The report also covered less well known forms of attack, including misrepresentation through spoof accounts and manipulated or fake content, and flooding search results on sites like Google with false and hateful content to drown out professional journalistic work.

Yes but never forget, they have cis privilege.

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