26 September 2023

eSafety joins ABC to protect journalists

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The eSafety Commission has teamed up with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to create best-practice resources to help media organisations protect their journalists from increasing levels of online abuse.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the resources included tips for media organisations on how to support staff to manage and mitigate the risk of social media abuse, preparing staff for engaging with online audiences, and how to respond to abuse online.

“Today’s journalists are often expected to have multiple social media profiles as part of their jobs, but this increased presence online has left many of them vulnerable to intolerable levels of online abuse,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We’ve worked closely with the ABC to develop useful and practical resources designed to empower all media organisations and journalists to manage and mitigate the serious impacts of online abuse.”

She said targeted harassment on social media was particularly acute for female journalists, who were more likely than men to experience abuse in the course of their work.

Ms Inman Grant said this abuse often took the form of violent threats, sexualised language and insults and references to their appearance or non-traditional gender roles, rather than solely attacking them based on their professional work.

“Our recent Women in the Spotlight (WITS) research report showed women with a media presence were 56 per cent more likely than men to receive online abuse, and for those with a significant public profile the threat was even higher,” the Commissioner said.

She said she wanted the resources to help create an open dialogue within media organisations between journalists and their employers about online abuse.

Managing Director of the ABC, David Anderson said the online abuse of journalists was a trend connected to the rise of disinformation, conspiracy theories and extremism.

“We have all felt and observed a rise in online hate and abuse directed at our media professionals, and we have seen the devastating cumulative impact of this daily bullying,” Mr Anderson said.

He said that along with female journalists, eSafety’s WITS research report showed Indigenous journalists, LGBTQIA+ journalists and culturally and linguistically diverse journalists were also more likely to experience online abuse.

e-Safety and the ABC’s Supporting journalists to engage safely online resources can be accessed at this PS News link.

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