IPI Launches Resource Platform to Combat Online Abuse

Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director of IPI
Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director of IPI

The International Press Institute (IPI) has launched a new web platform that offers comprehensive resources for newsrooms to combat online harassment against journalists and its effects on press freedom.

The new platform called ‘Ontheline Newsrooms’ will provide best practices to fight online harassment of journalists. The platform puts together measures, resources and best practices collected through interviews with more than 100 editors, journalists and media experts as well as visits to 45 leading newsrooms in Europe, including the BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, German public broadcaster ARD and Spain’s El País.

The website includes measures in four principal areas: pre- and post-moderation for both on-site comments and social media posts; newsroom structures and mechanisms designed to promote a culture of safety around online abuse; protocols for assessing and responding to attacks; and the roles and responsibilities of newsroom actors involved in these areas.

According to Barbara Trionfi, IPI Executive Director, “In providing these tools, we’re aiming to help counter not only the negative personal and professional impact of online abuse on journalists but also help prevent self-censorship arising from online attacks that threaten the public’s access to the news.”

“In order to achieve these aims, it is important that journalists who are the target of online harassment are not left alone to deal with it. This phenomenon must be acknowledged as a structural problem of the news ecosystem and addressed through dedicated newsroom policies and mechanisms that support both staff and freelancers,” he explained.

The platform also contains specific resources related to female journalists, a reflection of the fact that female journalists face different types of attacks than their male colleagues. Harassment targeting women tends to be especially vicious, highly sexualized and focused less on professional output than on the journalist herself. The resources on female journalists are being shared in cooperation with the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and its #SOFJO initiative.

The involvement of a broad range of actors – especially states and tech companies – is needed to tackle a press freedom problem that is of great importance to open and democratic societies. Newsrooms also have a role to play in ensuring the safety of their journalists and these measures can help them effectively do so.

The link to visit the platform is https://newsrooms-ontheline.ipi.media/.