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Violence Prevention Reporting Program

Threats facing journalists covering US presidential election

Alarming physical and digital threats are facing journalists reporting on politics and the 2024 US presidential elections in November, according to data from a IWMF’s Newsroom Safety survey comprising experiences from local journalists covering politics in swing states across the US, “revealing the extreme circumstances under which reporters are currently working”.

IWMF stands for Washington-based International Women’s Media Foundation. The main presidential swing states are where the 2020 presidential election was won with a small margin. The main seven are considered Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Key findings:

  • 37.7% of respondents reported being threatened with or experiencing physical violence while working as a journalist.
  • 30.66% of respondents reported being threatened with or experiencing digital violence while working as a journalist.
  • 26.93% of respondents reported legal threats or action against them while working as a journalist.
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“Anecdotally, journalists’ most frequently cited concerns were receiving online violence from far-right extremist groups, as well as being targeted at protests and rallies”, the IWMF says adding that this duality reinforces the need for training to equally address physical and digital safety.

“The Newsroom Safety Across America initiative was born from the expectation that this election year would bring heightened hostility toward journalists,” says Elisa Lees Muñoz, executive director of the IWMF. 

“The numbers in front of us make the danger glaring:Journalists need training to stay safe in the field and online this election season.”

The IWMF says it analysed the results of qualitative post-training interviews with participants from each state, which illustrate the experiences for reporters in politically charged, but contextually varied, environments. 

“A commonality across these interviews was experience with or concern about physical violence from law enforcement, including attack, detention and arrest while reporting.”

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