The Chilling: What More Can News Organisations Do to Combat Gendered Online Violence?

UNESCO, Julie Posetti, Nabeelah Shabbir

This publication is an extract from a wider UNESCO-commissioned global study on online violence against women journalists produced by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

It highlights the role of news organizations in preventing online violence against women journalists and providing due protection when these attacks do occur. It also offers action-oriented recommendations to help the news industry respond more effectively to the crisis.

Some of the recommendations proposed for consideration by news organizations as key responders to online violence against women journalists globally include, among others:

  • Recognizing gendered online violence as a workplace safety issue experienced by their journalists (whether staff or freelance). Understand that this applies regardless of whether or not the abuse is directed at the journalist on their news website or a digital service owned by a third party.
  • Ensuring that online violence is understood as "real" and that the psychological injury suffered by women journalists under attack is considered serious.
  • Acknowledging the increased intersectional risks and impacts facing women journalists at the nexus of misogyny, racism, religious bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination requires recognition in editorial guidelines online violence response protocols.
  • Recognizing the correlation (and potential causal link) between online violence and offline attacks and responding accordingly by ensuring that defensive strategies integrate physical safety, digital security, psychosocial support (including access to specialized trauma-aware counselling), editorial responses and legal assistance.

UNESCO, Julie Posetti, Nabeelah Shabbir, “The Chilling: What More Can News Organisations Do to Combat Gendered Online Violence?”, 2022