Online Violence Against Women Journalists Aids Physical Violence: Study

Online Violence Against Women Journalists Aids Physical Violence: Study
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A study conducted by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) has found that online violence against women journalists can lead to physical violence, including assault and murder. The study, which examined 15 countries over a three-year period, found that online violence is often used to silence, humiliate, and discredit women journalists. The study also notes that this type of violence can cause serious psychological harm, hinder public interest journalism, ruin women’s careers, and deprive society of valuable voices and perspectives.

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) has released a report on online violence against women journalists, which was commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The report is the most comprehensive study to date on this topic, covering a diverse range of geographical, linguistic, and ethnic groups. The research was led by Dr. Julie Posetti, the ICFJ’s Global Director of Research and a senior researcher at the University of Sheffield’s Centre for the Freedom of the Media.

The study found that online violence against women journalists in the UK is often connected to populist politics and polarizing debates, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The report also revealed a strong link between online violence and offline attacks, particularly stalking, in the UK. The study is based on the experiences of nearly 1,100 journalists, as well as two large data case studies analyzing 2.5 million social media posts targeting journalists Maria Ressa and Carole Cadwalladr, and detailed individual country case studies.

The majority of female journalists surveyed reported experiencing online violence in their work, with threats of physical violence and death threats being identified by 25% of respondents and sexual violence identified by 18%. Nearly half of the women surveyed reported receiving unwanted private social media messages, indicating that a significant amount of online violence against female journalists takes place in private rather than publicly. Some interviewees also experienced offline stalking that originated from online direct messaging. The study, conducted by the University of Sheffield, also included two case studies analyzing over 2.5 million social media posts directed at Maria Ressa and Carole Cadwalladr using natural language processing and network mapping techniques.

Additionally, the research found that Black and minority women journalists experience a higher level of discrimination online compared to offline due to multiple factors, including their gender, profession, and race. In some instances, they are also targeted based on their religion and sexual orientation. The study recommends the creation or strengthening of independent organizations and regulations to ensure that laws protecting the safety of women journalists are followed.

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