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Regional editor threatens police action over ‘hate-fillled’ trolls

James Mitchinson newAn editor has threatened online trolls with police action over ‘hate-filled’ abuse published on a regional daily’s social media pages.

Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson has declared “war” on online abuse after being alerted about a number of harmful messages published on the internet.

James, pictured, has urged Post readers to bring such comments to the newspaper’s attention and has warned the police may be called on to intervene.

His warning comes as the editor’s personal assistant at the Nottingham Post urged readers to “be kind” to the newspaper’s journalists in the wake of recent abuse.

Posting on Twitter, James wrote: “In recent days we have been alerted to some abusive messages on our social media pages that no individual should have to read about themselves.

“The messages went beyond fair critique or criticism. They were hate-filled noted designed to cause harm to those targeted.

“We will not tolerate this and have taken steps to delete the messages and block the perpetrators from our pages. Should we be sufficiently concerned, we will ask the police to investigate.

“We cannot win the war against the tolls without your help, and ask that you help bring to our attention anything you believe to be deliberately harmful to others.”

HTFP understands the messages in question were aimed at a female MP, but the warning has prompted Jeremy Clifford, editor-in-chief of Post owner JPIMedia, to issue a statement supporting the company’s journalists against abuse.

On Twitter, he wrote: “We will continue to stand up for our journalists who every day carry out their profession with dedication and a commitment to the truth.”

Elsewhere, Katrina Smith, who is PA to the editor at the Nottingham Post, has written a piece for the newspaper’s Nottinghamshire Live sister website urging critics of its journalists to “think before they attack”.

Katrina wrote: “I’ve seen many changes over the years. Witnessing firsthand the decline in our print readership and circulation and the advancement of the digital era.

“Now I’m not a journalist, but I’m extremely passionate about our industry and the people who work in it. It takes a tremendous amount of hard-work, dedication and commitment to work in a newsroom. The hours are very demanding and the starting pay is low.

“We’re a team that is steadfast in our principles. Working at an extremely fast pace to produce accurate local news. Our pride is our passion and our community is our love.

“And yes, we also do really good things. Whether it be raising money for the homeless, honouring our future generation or shouting as loud as we can about Nottingham and what we have to offer.

“But it can be a struggle witnessing the daily criticism and trolling of regional journalists. My colleagues, who work so very, very hard.

“We won’t change and our love and passion for regional journalism will continue. I’m very proud to work with a team whose work ethics are second to none.”


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  • March 10, 2020 at 10:23 am

    It’s worth reading the comments on Katrina’s piece; as well as criticising its grammatical errors (reproduced verbatim in the HTFP piece above, unkindly) they include:

    “There is unquestionably a lot of clickbait content on here, which I’d guess wasn’t there before the internet took off. Not doing stuff just because it generates numbers is also a part of being kind.”

    “Sadly the NEP has become a joke”.

    “Often you make silly little mistakes like getting towns and villages placed in the wrong counties and we do expect a little more local knowledge.”

    “Respect has to be earned. The Post’s policy of filling its pages with advertorials, rehashed press releases, clickbait rubbish, “woe-is-me” style human interest stories, and the dregs of Facebook and Twitter attention-seeking, does not deserve respect.”

    It would seem that online abuse – which has in many cases been actively encouraged by management pushing reporters to interact on social media – is the inevitable corollary of the increase in page views constantly being trumpeted by digital ‘chiefs’, since that increase is achieved not by excellent journalism (which is now almost universally regarded as too expensive) but by posting the kinds of material derided in the last comment above. If you sup with the Devil, use a long spoon.

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  • March 10, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Steerpike is correct

    Far too frequently, usually when click rates need improving or ‘likes’ need building up on my local daily social media sites, the editor will roll out a columnist known for their contentious comments and views to post an item which immediately receives reactive and negative comment, presumably this cheap tactic is done purely to rattle the reader and encourage engagement via clicks throughs and comment.
    Perhaps if intelligently written professional and accurate local reportage was used in place of sensationalist, hyperbolic and knowingly contentious posts the kind of feedback these posts receive would stop.

    The buck starts and stops with the person responsible for content and who sanctions and encourages staff to put out knowingly controversial posts.

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  • March 10, 2020 at 11:17 am

    what do you think? what do you think? Let us know? Let us know?
    It all opens the door for the social media misfits.
    If you don’t like it, switch it off and do some more proper journalism.

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  • March 10, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    I totally agree with the above comments

    Editors want the click throughs, comments and likes/angry faces /laughs emojis (anything as long as it’s a reaction) on their FB posts, but take exception when someone comments negatively in response to a presumably inaccurate or controversial post.

    Maybe publishers need to decide what is more important ,the feelings of their staff or the incessant chasing of online popularity?
    if its the former then can I suggest they stop posting items likely to encourage angry responses and stick to reporting local news

    Oh and congratulations to the Nottingham Post editor who must be the last editor in the regional press to have their own “personal assistant”
    …. where I am some folk don’t even have desks

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  • March 11, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    I sense the ed is trying to protect staff and at the same time follow his superiors demand for more click bait. A tough balancing act.

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  • March 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    As far as I can see, looking at my local daily paper and regional weekly online posts, more and more members of the public are seeing click bait for what it is and are calling it out via the comments.
    While personal abuse of the individual is wholly unacceptable it is understandable to a certain extent when those looking for news are faced with constantly misleading and vague posts which need clicking through to clarify the story detail.
    The editor or whoever’s responsible for content ( probably not the editor to be fair) is encouraging negative reactions and ridicule by the incessant chase to hit click rate targets and for individuals to constantly post content by numbers. Sacrifice cheap click bait content with genuine, clear, unsensational and well written news and the level of abuse borne out of frustration would cease.
    With the answer in their hands it’s a decision they have to make but whether they choose to do so remains to be seen.

    When you consider

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