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Nearly Two-Thirds of Journalists Say They’ve Been Threatened On the Job: Report



threatened journalists

Nearly two-thirds of journalists have been faced verbal or physical threats while working, according to a new study.

Out of 1,600 American journalists, 61.4 percent reported being threatened, according to a poll conducted by the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. The study was conducted in 2022 as part of the school’s American Journalist study, which builds on studies conducted roughly every decade since 1971.

The study broke out the different kinds of threats. The most common were verbal threats, with the majority, 54%, occurring online, but over a third, 38%, were in person. Threats of physical violence were experienced online by 20% of respondents, compared to 14.9% offline. Online threats to a journalist’s career were nearly twice as common at 30.5% than offline (15.5%).

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While less common, more serious threats were also made against a number of journalists. Nearly 12% reported online death threats, and 6% reported offline ones. A tenth of journalists reported threats of physical abuse—and roughly the same amount faced these threats both on- and offline. Nearly 6% were threatened with sexual violence online, but that fell to 2.3% offline.

When demographics are taken into consideration, the study shows that women faced between seven and 14 times the harassment in categories like sexism—30.5% in person for women compared to 2.2% for men—and threats of sexual violence. Most of the sexual violence threats against women were online (12.5% to men’s 1.3%), but 4.8% of women received these threats in person, compared to just 0.5% of men. The margin of error for this study is 3%.

This is the first year the study has asked about threats, so historical data is not available. However, a different study funded by Thomson Reuters and made by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism showed an increase in threats against journalists worldwide. And in America, last year, Jeff German, a journalist with the Las Vegas Review-Journal was killed; the lead suspect in the case was a subject German had previously reported on, according to NPR.

Threats have also come from the government, with reports of police arresting journalists covering protests or other police actions. And former President Donald Trump has repeatedly called journalists untrustworthy, banging the drum of “fake news” whenever negative coverage appears.

“I see the way they write. They’re so damn dishonest,” Trump said at a 2018 rally. “And I don’t mean all of them, because some of the finest people I know are journalists really. Hard to believe when I say that. I hate to say it, but I have to say it. But 75 percent of those people are downright dishonest. Downright dishonest. They’re fake. They’re fake. They make the sources up. They don’t exist in many cases.”

Trump’s comments have inspired his followers as well. There have been multiple cases of his supporters attacking journalists assigned to cover his rallies.

Featured image by the European Parliament/Flickr, used under Creative Commons.

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