The online abuse of journalists is causing fewer new entrants to join the regional press industry, an editorial chief has warned.
Iliffe Media editorial director Ian Carter says a decline in the number of reporters entering the industry is partially down to “a reluctance to open themselves up to abuse from morons.”
Lee cited social media abuse directed towards him and his colleagues as a factor in his decision, which came in the week his employer Reach appointed Rebecca Whittington as its first online safety editor in a bid to tackle the issue.
Responding to the story, Ian posted on Twitter: “This is happening at one end of the spectrum, while at the other we are seeing far fewer people enter the industry.
“I’ve no doubt that is, in part, due to a reluctance to open themselves up to abuse from morons.
“The anti-press sentiment is exacerbated by lazy politicians shouting ‘fake news’ every time something they don’t like is published, police officers warning victims of crime not to speak to local journalists etc etc.”
Last month a number of regional editors spoke out to defend their journalists after a spate of abuse against local reporters covering the fuel and food crises.
Speaking to HTFP, Ian said: “We constantly see journalists being abused on social media – it was particularly prevalent during the recent petrol shortages in Kent.
“I feel a very dangerous narrative has developed, and it’s no wonder we are seeing smaller numbers of people entering the industry.
“Although the anonymous social media users are the biggest problem, we really aren’t helped by people who should know better feeding the myth that local journalists are untrustworthy.
“We have had numerous examples of [police] family liaison officers warning people off talking to the press, and every politician who labels something ‘fake news’ because they don’t like their own shortcomings being exposed add to the problem.”