A weekly newspaper journalist has become the latest to open up about online abuse – revealing he has been called a “nonce”, a “c***” and had death wished upon him in recent weeks.
Darren Burke, of the Doncaster Free Press, spoke out after HTFP’s coverage of the abuse being aimed at Amy Fenton, chief reporter at Barrow-in-Furness-based daily The Mail, which has led to Cumbria Police investigating a case of stalking.
Amy told HTFP that police had previously told her she should expect such abuse on the grounds that she is a “public figure.”
He told HTFP: “I totally sympathise with Amy and in the past, have had similar comments about being in the public eye and people saying it should be expected.
“I’ve been called a nonce, a c*** and one person told me that he hoped I died of food poisoning while on holiday, simply for doing my job. Would the same people feel it was acceptable to say that kind of thing in the street, or for instance, to a plumber or a builder if they didn’t like their work?
“I treat Twitter the same way as if it was a complaint via email or phone and try to respond accordingly, admittedly, sometimes with tongue in cheek. Some people suggest I shouldn’t rise to the trolling and ignore them, but ignoring vile abuse that journalists are subjected to online is not going to make it go away. So more often than not, I’ll retweet the criticism to show the kind of thing we’re being subjected to on a daily basis.
“I am sure some will see it as bleating and boo-hooing, but it does make me laugh when I get called a nonce, paedo or c*** and I’m supposedly the unprofessional one for daring to say something back. It has always been a job where you need a thick skin, but it seems our skins are having to get even thicker and it shouldn’t be like that.”
So far in 2019 HTFP has covered a number of cases of regional journalists opening up about abuse they have received online – including Wales Online’s Estel Farell-Roig, Sussex Newspapers crime editor Michael Drummond and Oxford Mail news editor Rebecca Hudson.