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Editor slams ‘pathetic’ troll’s campaign of abuse against journalists

Rebecca HudsonAn online troll who continues to abuse journalists despite being banned from a regional daily’s website as often as once a day has been branded “pathetic” by its editor.

Both Oxford Mail group news editor Rebecca Hudson and editor Samantha Harman have hit out at ongoing abuse they and their colleagues keep receiving from the anonymous commenter on the newspaper’s website.

Rebecca, pictured, has banned the user from the Mail’s site multiple times, but the troll continues to create new accounts to comment by registering new email addresses and creating new usernames.

Rebecca hit out at the commenter on Twitter by sharing a screenshot of his latest post on the site, in which he launched a tirade at Mail journalists.

Explaining his continued reappearance, Rebecca added: “This not only means he has to make a new account on our website each time, but a whole new email address. Every day. For the past few weeks.

“Just to slag off people who actually spend their time working hard. I don’t want to say he’s pathetic, but…”

In response, Samantha said: “I do want to say it. He’s pathetic.”

Rebecca has previous experience of dealing with direct abuse from online trolls, and HTFP reported in May this year how she had won an apology from a blog owner after “completely ludicrous” conspiracy theories involving her were posted on his website.

Rebecca had been the subject of a “pack of delusional lies” posted on the blog about the Salisbury Novichok attacks against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, which she had covered in her previous role as head of news at the Salisbury Journal.

Discussing the latest incident with the Mail troll, she told HTFP: “As a group of local papers we want to keep our comments open to encourage debate and conversation around the issues we report on, but there are some people who don’t understand that that doesn’t give them a platform to spread hate speech.

“If the user in question wanted to offer any sort of meaningful comment or criticism about the stories we report then they would be a welcome contributor.

“But whoever is hiding behind false names and running this account is often homophobic, racist and sexist, as well as being downright rude to our reporters and anyone we report on.

“This person has made 13 accounts in the space of a month, sometimes more than one per day, so despite repeatedly saying the Mail ‘isn’t worth reading’, they have obviously taken a great deal of interest in our work.”

6 comments

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  • September 19, 2019 at 10:07 am
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    I know you shouldn’t feed trolls, but…speaking of getting basic things wrong, I’d be tempted to point out that there haven’t been any polytechnics for >20 years (backward or otherwise), so local papers aren’t employing many “kids” with degrees from them.

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  • September 19, 2019 at 11:56 am
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    Just ignore him – he (or she but probably a he) is likely to be a failed journo, bitter at being unable to get a job

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  • September 19, 2019 at 12:15 pm
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    Nothing new as there have always been these oddballs. The only difference these days is their use of social media whereas, back in the day, they sent letters (often minus a stamp).

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  • September 19, 2019 at 2:21 pm
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    Don’t condone sustained abuse but pretty sure a lot of comments generally are a reaction to churnalism. There are a lot of negative comments on my local newspaper’s website – rarely do they come from vindictive, rude, anti-social trolls, most are readers genuinely frustrated at being fed rubbish. This week’s criticisms have been about bad spelling and grammar, lack of local knowledge, lack of local relevance, old ‘news’ and free advertising

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  • September 19, 2019 at 2:57 pm
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    And yet,

    These papers still continue to put journos’ faces and names front and centre, putting them right in the firing line.

    I used to ask why my face and name had to be on top of stories and was never given a good answer, not long after a female reporter had half the EDL giving her abuse for a court piece she’d done.

    If these companies cared about their journalists as they profess to do, they wouldn’t make it so easy for them to receive personal abuse.

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  • September 19, 2019 at 5:19 pm
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    When I worked at a paper I’d make sure a photographer didn’t get a byline for a story that could involve comeback, people are idiots and have always been so, even going back to when I started out 22 years ago, I didn’t get bylines for court photos. There is no reason why a reporter has to have a byline, this would do – Staff Reporter – newdesk@thepaper.co.uk

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