Practical and legal tools to protect the safety of journalists
From impersonation accounts to hateful slurs and death threats, journalists around the world are facing increasing levels of abuse in an attempt to intimidate or force them into silence. In response, the Thomson Reuters Foundation – in collaboration with UNESCO, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and the International News Safety Institute (INSI) – has developed a suite of resources for journalists, media managers and newsrooms to strengthen responses to online and offline abuse.
What is ONLINE HARASSMENT?
Online harassment can take a variety of forms, from unmistakable insults and threats, to more vicious means such as stalking or online impersonation. It can be orchestrated by organised political groups and ideological movements or carried out by a few isolated individuals. It can remain purely virtual, or give rise to subsequent physical attacks, for instance when a journalist’s private or personally identifiable information is broadcasted online (doxxing).
It is particularly difficult for journalists to protect themselves from it, as the use of online resources and exposure on social networks are often essential to their work. The lack of a clear path to legal recourse means most of these crimes end up being treated as an occupational hazard, often leaving victims feeling vulnerable and isolated.
To address this critical gap in the protection of journalists, this site provides legal guidance on how journalists and newsrooms can seek to deal with online harassment, be it to identify punishable offences, to seek help from appropriate organisations, to efficiently gather evidence and to take steps should they decide to file a complaint against the perpetrators. These resources are available below and on the Resources page.
Practical Guide for Women Journalists on
Responding to Online Harassment
This guide provides concrete actions that women journalists can take both in limiting the risk of certain types of digital attacks and when facing harassment and gender-based violence online. The guide includes information on how to document abuse and potential remedial action.
This guide is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
Checklist and Guidelines on
Gender-Sensitive Safety Policies
Developed for editors and media managers, this checklist and set of guidelines provide newsrooms with best practice advice for creating a culture of safety in the workplace, both online and offline.
The document also outlines how to establish a culture within the organisation that effectively tackles sexual harassment and creates a safe environment for journalists to report cases of harassment. It includes a checklist that summarises the guidelines, and covers a range of measures and mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure that safety policies and practices within newsrooms are gender-sensitive, gender-responsive and address gender-based sexual harassment.
This is available in Arabic, English, Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian.
ONLINE ATTACKS AGAINST JOURNALISTS:
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS GUIDE
This practical guide provides journalists with concrete legal tools to deal with online harassment: to identify punishable offences, seek help from appropriate organisations, gather evidence efficiently, and take the correct steps should they decide to file a complaint against the perpetrators. Where applicable, it also presents examples of litigation initiated by journalists who were victims of online harassment.
It covers the legal rights of journalists in Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom (England and Wales) and the United States.
Author: The guide was commissioned by INSI and UNESCO and facilitated by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The following law firms provided pro bono legal research: Baker McKenzie, KLA – Koury Lopes Advogados, Simmons & Simmons LLP, Arthur Cox, Paul Hastings, Intel Corporation, DLA Piper, Dechert LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, Bowmans and Nishith Desai Associates.