Price of Practicing Journalism Is a Narrow ‘Social’ Window

Yesterday (9/8/22) I attended a panel discussion at the International Press Institute’s “World Congress” on the escalating dangers to journalists, including social-media assaults. The group at Columbia University included Washington Post editor Sally Buzbee and others from international publications, and none was too sure how to combat what all agreed were increasingly organized attempts to intimidate a free press. Newsrooms have long had to handle potentially-violent cranks–one reason most stopped allowing easy public access–but today’s online threats and various personal invasions, including doxxing, have taken on a more sinister cast. They especially seem targeted at women. It’s apparent that social media is a particular vulnerability, and yet, as this summer article from the UK’s Media Gazette explores, those platforms also are thought a necessary way of reaching and expanding audiences. The New York panel could only conclude that enhanced training of staff (freelancers, too?) to avoid undue exposure, and bullet-proofing of coverage against bogus claims of “fake news,” are the most ready remedies. Surely anyone entering hard-news reporting or commentary needs to reconsider any past or present appearances online and limit them to what is their public, professional face. This is a sacrifice, if you can call it that, as basic as not receiving gratuities through their work–part of the calling of journalism.

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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