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Journalists facing death threats and claims of celebrity sex, says editor

Natalie FahyJournalists at a regional daily have faced death threats and claims of having sex with celebrities according to their editor.

Natalie Fahy, who edits the Nottingham Post and Nottinghamshire Live, has revealed the extent to which her reporters are facing threats and abuse from online trolls.

Natalie, left, used an editorial to hit out at readers who have been targeting her journalists after they received “unfounded criticism” about their coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

Her criticism of the abusers comes after she invited Post reporters to tell her about some of the worst comments they’d received from readers.

Examples include a reader suggesting one journalist should be killed to “stop her lying”, while another accused the same journalist of having slept with a well-known Nottingham celebrity.

In her editorial, published to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Natalie said such comments were “truly the tip of the iceberg.”

She wrote: “An hour doesn’t go by without phrases like fake news and clickbait being thrown at our hard-working journalists, many of whom are battling with spotty broadband in their dining rooms or kitchens to do their jobs.

“We are writing this today because some of our reporters have been subjected to awful abuse. Yes, criticism is part of our job and we mostly take it on the chin – you don’t go into journalism to be loved by everybody. But some of these examples may go some way to showing you what we’re up against.

“Days ago one reader suggested one of our writers should be killed to ‘stop her lying’. Another accused her of sleeping with a well-known Nottingham celebrity.

“Another told one of our writers he needs “knocking the **** out and one day it will happen. Gobby little ****”. And when another asked for permission to use a video clip she was called a ‘rodent ******* ****’ by someone who had no connection to the video.

“A reader even started messaging one of our writers, describing his work as ‘council propaganda’ and telling him to move to the area he was writing about – something he had actually done several months beforehand.”

“Some of these comments keep people awake at night. Maybe we should all take time to consider what we’re doing before we type that message out.”

Natalie is the latest of several regional editors who have have recently highlighted unfair criticism of their titles’ coverage of COVID-19.

Others include John Wilson, of the Hereford Times, Laura Collins, of the Yorkshire Evening Post, and Plymouth Live’s Edd Moore

HTFP also reported last month how Doncaster Free Press journalists had faced abuse after publishing stories aimed at debunking coronavirus-related conspiracy theories linked to 5G technology, while Conor Gogarty, of the Bristol Post, hit back after receiving online abuse after being accused of making up an exclusive about a new cemetery on his patch.

Mark Waldron, editor of Portsmouth daily The News, also hit out at readers who had abused his journalists over their newspaper’s decision to introduce an online paywall in April.

Speaking to HTFP, Natalie said: “The article was prompted by a combination of working in difficult circumstances, and seeing our reporters often unfairly criticised.

“We’re definitely open to comments, criticism and we know not everyone will like what we write. But I wanted to speak to readers about the totally baseless abuse and bullying our journalists sometimes face.

“The reaction was vigorous and lively which is what I’d expect. I’m happy people take the time to comment on our articles. But we had a lot of people defending us too.”

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.