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A guide on how to handle online abuse

A guide for journalists facing online abuse

Online abuse of journalists has serious consequences for press freedom. It is often only considered a digital safety issue, but the impact of online abuse on journalists’ mental health is significant and has serious consequences for them, their work, and for press freedom, International Women’s Media Foundation says. “This is particularly true for women and diverse journalists who are disproportionately targeted by online attacks.

The foundation has published a Mental Health Guide for Journalists Facing Online Violence that includes guidelines and exercises.

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“The culture of silence around online violence and mental health has made it difficult for journalists to get long-term practical help”, the foundation says, adding that the guide was created with the needs of journalists in mind by mental health professionals specialized in working in trauma and the media. 

IWMF says the guide:

  • Helps journalists understand the psychological reasons why abusers attack online and how to take steps to better protect their mental health
  • Provides a mental health self-evaluation chart so journalists can assess how online violence is affecting their wellbeing
  • Provides easy-to-implement, downloadable exercises to help manage the mental health toll of online abuse
  • Suggests resources and organizations that can support journalists with issues related to online violence

“Time and time again women journalists told us that access to more mental health support was vital for combating the effects of online violence. The culture of silence around online violence and mental health has made it difficult for journalists to get long-term practical help. We hope that this guide will go some way to addressing this gap.” 

The foundation says the guide is designed for journalists, both staff and freelancers, targeted by online abuse who are looking for practical mental health support that they can implement themselves.

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