Female journalists are facing a “relentless” barrage of attacks and harassment, with nearly a third considering leaving the profession as a result, media support organizations have warned.
More than half of women in media have suffered work-related abuse, threats or physical attacks in the past year, found a survey by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and TrollBusters, which supports reporters being harassed.
“Female journalists are dealing with harassment on a daily basis,” said Elisa Lees Munoz, executive director of the US-based IWMF, which promotes women journalists. “It is almost generally accepted as part of their everyday work environment.”
The majority of women said their gender was a key reason they had been targeted, in a survey of nearly 600 female journalists in the United States and around the world.
More than half reported they had been threatened or abused in a face-to-face encounter in the course of their work, with over a quarter saying they had been physically attacked.
Nearly two-thirds said they had suffered online harassment or threats, with more than one in ten reporting it happened often or daily.
“We believe this is a concerted effort to discredit women’s voices in the media and to intimidate them into leaving the profession,” TrollBusters founder Michelle Ferrier, a former journalist, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
She added that women’s “tenuous position” in male-dominated newsrooms meant they were often wary of complaining due to a fear they might suffer professionally as a result.
Online harassment was particularly concerning, said the report’s authors, with female journalists now facing an endless stream of abuse in real time, which in some cases was deliberately co-ordinated by hate groups.
One former female journalist in the United States quoted in the report said she left her job after receiving a stream of online abuse, including a message with a racial slur saying “I will rape you and throw you in the gutter.”
Female journalists also said they felt abuse was increasing, with nine in ten saying they had seen a rise in both physical and online threats over the past five years.