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Editor publicly criticises reader over ‘tirade of abuse’

Samantha HarmanA regional daily editor has publicly hit back at a reader who sent her an “offensive” letter as another title launched a campaign to combat abuse of journalists.

Samantha Harman, who edits the Oxford Mail, has spoken out after sharing the contents of a critical letter she received.

In the letter, which Samantha partially shared on Twitter, the reader subjected her to what she called a “tirade of abuse” after the paper’s owner Newsquest implemented a new metered paywall model for its websites.

Samantha spoke out as another editor, Laura Collins of the Yorkshire Evening Post, launched a ‘Call it Out’ campaign aimed at tackling abuse of journalists on social media.

Speaking to HTFP, Samantha said she had cut the reader’s original down for Twitter as it was “so offensive”.

As well as complaining about the paywall move, the reader, writing under the name ‘AnnHelen’, went on to describe the “Oxford Times” as “nothing more than a tabloid”.

In her response, also shared on Twitter, Samantha wrote: “What a lovely email to receive from a complete stranger after yet another excessively long day at work.

“May I kindly ask that you re-read your email and consider how you’d feel if a stranger sent that kind of language to you. Perhaps then you might consider addressing me with a little politeness.”

She added: “PS, the Oxford Times and Oxford Mail are different papers.”

Samantha, pictured, told HTFP: “I appreciate genuine feedback and if a valid complaint has been made, I will of course give it my full consideration.

“However, there is no need for total rudeness. This person did not even address me with a ‘hello’ but instead launched into a tirade of abuse. Someone they’ve never met or spoken to before.

“To tell a stranger ‘shame on you’ because they are asking those who use their services heavily to consider a small contribution is a horrible thing to say.

“People seem to think that what you say on the internet has no consequence. That you can type angrily into an abyss.

“Your words have consequences. They are seen and felt by a human. If you have a valid complaint, that’s fine, but speak to others how you’d like to be spoken to. There is absolutely no excuse for rudeness, it’s embarrassing.”

Yorkshire Evening Post editor Laura Collins also recently revealed she could “fill a newspaper” with the “reams” of abusive comments her team have to deal with every single day.

Laura has called for readers to join the newspaper’s fight against online abuse by reporting offensive comments they see on social media.

The YEP’s Call It Out campaign aims to tackle the problem and is also calling on politicians and social media companies to do more.

In launching the fight, Laura reiterated her previous assertion that female journalists are the main targets of online abuse aimed at those in the industry.

In an editorial launching the campaign, she wrote: “The sad reality is I could fill our entire newspaper with the reams of hateful and abusive comments that the team is forced to monitor each day on our social media channels. It is the equivalent of policing the Wild West.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of the abuse myself, too. People have called into question my credentials as an editor purely because I’m a young woman in a high profile position.”