Trace Reporters –There is a new front line in journalism safety, it is where female journalists sit at the epicentre of risk. The digital, psychological and physical safety threats confronting women in journalism are overlapping, converging and inseparable. Where and when they intersect, these can be terrifying, they are also potentially deadly.
The risks requiring identification and examination range from brutal, prolific online harassment and abuse to overt, targeted attacks that frequently involve threats of sexual violence. Increasingly, they also include digital privacy and security breaches that can expose identifying information and exacerbate offline safety threats facing women journalists.
Disinformation tactics, like malicious misrepresentation using Artificial Intelligence technologies, are also a feature of the phenomenon. These combined threats can be termed ‘gendered online violence.’ The perpetrators range from individual misogynists and networked mobs seeking to shut women up, through to State-linked disinformation agents aiming to undercut press freedom and chill critical journalism through orchestrated attacks.
A study of the impact of online violence against women journalists found that their mental health was compromised, while employers and law enforcement offered little to no support.
Online violence against women journalists often results in post-traumatic stress disorder, sustained online abuse against women journalists also compromises their mental health.
Speakers at a webinar for Journalists to commemorate this year World Press Freedom day virtual event hosted by Media For Community Change (MFCC) in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden in Abuja, highlight protective measure from Mental Health of Journalists.
The Sweden Ambassador to Nigeria, Carl Michael Grans said there are many challenges face by the Nigeria media.
According to him, ‘most journalists are expose to threat, issues of violence against women and sexual abuses should be address” He however called for the protection of Journalists at all level.
In his presentation with topic What measures Journalists can take when faced with a lawsuit by Paul Adepoju advised Journalists to take preventive measure.
According to him, “whenever you are wrong take responsibility and apologize, he advised against rushing to break news.
He also advised against gotcha Journalism and seek proper approach for those in questions to response to the story before publishing.
He called on Journalists to have personal access to legal and that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) should always help their members anytime the need arise.
In his presentation on Tips to protect digital information, physical protective measures and mental health by Alle Odhiameh advised Journalists to focus more on the technical aspects of the job.
He said alot of Journalists are into use of substances because of their inability to handle the traumatic stress they go through while covering a mentally draining reports.
He urged Journalists to take a break from work, adding that it will help them Control their emotions and memories.
He called for trauma training for Journalists and it’s inclusion for school of Journalism to educate students on how to manage mental health.
Also speaking, Dr Theophilus of Daily Trust Foundation with topic, Investigative research tools to ward off potential harm, advised investigative Journalists to be very careful, analysis the risk involved, look out for all evidence and mentain confidentiality while doing such report.