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Four out of five journalists facing abuse in job, ministers find

Michelle Stanistreet 1Four out of five journalists are facing abuse in their job – but the majority are not reporting it to police because they are “not confident” they will be taken seriously.

A government survey has revealed most journalists have experienced threats, abuse or violence as a result of their work in the UK, and that one in three female journalists do not feel safe in their work because of this.

But despite this, just one journalist in 10 affected by the issue has reported all instances they face to police – with almost three-quarters not reporting any of the abuse they have suffered at all.

The report, produced by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, comes on the same day News Media Association chairman Owen Meredith warned local reporters are facing a “daily onslaught” of abuse.

HTFP has in recent weeks covered the case of Cornwall Live’s Lee Trewhela, who cited abuse on social media as one of his reasons for deciding to leave the industry after 30 years.

Days later, Iliffe Media editorial director Ian Carter warned that the prospect of “abuse by morons” was hitting the numbers of young people wanting to enter the regional press.

According to the report, a majority of the 360 journalists who took part were “not at all confident” that reports of their having experienced abuse would be taken seriously by police officers.

Of those that had reported an incident to the police, only 15pc were satisfied with how the case was handled, with 60pc being dissatisfied.

The report states: “Multiple responses suggested the police themselves contributed towards threats or abuse towards journalists.

“This included police physically restricting access to spaces, arresting journalists, and holding negative conceptions about the role of journalists which affect how they treat them.

“A number of responses also felt that ministers and other politicians contribute to this negative attitude towards journalists.

“One argued that politicians and individuals in power attack or criticise journalists, this gives ‘the green light for members of the public to do the same.'”

Other findings of the report include that half of female respondents had also experienced sexism during the course of their work, while a third of respondents from ethnic minority backgrounds reported experiencing racism.

One in four respondents did not report any instances of abuse to their employer, although the majority did report at least some incidents.

The most common reason for journalists not reporting incidents to their employer was that they felt nothing could be done, or that they had no confidence that anything would be done about it.

One in five stated that they did not report incidents to their employer because they saw receiving threats, abuse or violence as part of their job, and one in 10 did not want to raise it because they felt it could harm their career prospects.

The report states: “Together, these responses suggest that the normalisation of forms of abuse, threats and violence in the course of journalists’ work, combined with a perception that employers did not have the capacity or power to effectively address reported incidents, has led to significant gaps in reporting.

“That said, the data suggests employers are performing better than other institutions in terms of journalists’ willingness to report, although this may vary by employer within the sector.”

In response to the report, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, pictured, said: “This evidence demonstrates that much more needs to be done to tackle the growing scourge of harassment and attacks against journalists.

“The action plan endorsed this year by the government’s National Committee for the Safety of Journalists is a vital part of that work.

“We need a cultural change to stop this abuse and unacceptable behaviour from being normalised – this is not, and must not be allowed to become, part of a journalist’s job.

“No worker should have to contend with threats of violence and intimidation. We want to see a zero-tolerant approach, with greater reporting, better policing and robust sentencing, to protect journalists and journalism.”