• Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

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New Hub Gives Women Journalists Support and Resources to Fight Online Violence

The growing number of women journalists facing harassment, abuse and threats online can now find support and resources at the Online Violence Response Hub.

The hub is a project of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) under the banner of the Coalition Against Online Violence – a collection of more than 40 organizations convened by the IWMF to find better solutions to addressing digital attacks.

The first-of-its-kind suite of resources aims to help women journalists fight back against a scourge of online violence aimed at silencing them.

The Online Violence Response Hub is designed as a one-stop shop for women journalists under attack online, making it easier to find advice and support.

It helps journalists navigate their response to online violence, from accessing trauma support to pursuing accountability for perpetrators and enablers of attacks.

The site includes a suite of the latest resources on censorship, doxxing, harassment, threats, trolling and more, as well as access to services.

Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler news site in the Philippines and a victim of many online attacks, said the hub is “an important intervention.” As she put it: “The platforms enable and encourage the online violence that makes it so much harder for women journalists to do our jobs; in cases like mine, orchestrated online attacks are precursors to the weaponization of the law and persecution by the State.

We have to fight back, we have to hold the enablers and perpetrators to account, and we are stronger together.”

The Hub comes at a critical time: According to a global UNESCO-ICFJ survey, nearly three out of four women journalists reported experiencing online violence in the course of their work. The survey was conducted in five languages and across 125 countries.

Twenty percent had experienced offline attacks that they connected with online abuse, while 41 percent said they had experienced online violence as part of coordinated disinformation campaigns.

“As ICFJ’s research shows, online violence takes many forms and is especially harmful to women of color, women of minority religions and women in the LGBTQ community,” said ICFJ’s President Joyce Barnathan. “It does not respect global boundaries and it demands collaborative responses like those offered on the Hub.”

The ICFJ research for UNESCO found that women journalists face a triple threat online: They are attacked for their critical, independent journalism; for being journalists; and on the basis of their sex. They are also retreating from visibility in response to large-scale attacks and prolonged exposure to online violence.

“Women journalists must be supported if they are to continue to expose injustice and amplify issues that are so often ignored,” said the IWMF’s Executive Director Elisa Lees Muñoz. “No journalist should face threats against their life and livelihood for uncovering uncomfortable truths.

If we don’t address the epidemic of online violence, we eliminate the future of diversity in storytelling.”

The Coalition Against Online Violence is supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Emerson Collective, Jigsaw, The Knight Foundation and Luminate Group. Current members of the Coalition Against Online Violence – in addition to the IWMF and ICFJ – include Access Now, ACOS, Areto Labs, ARTICLE 19, Block Party, The Coalition for Women in Journalism,

Columbia University—Data Science Institute, Committee to Protect Journalists, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Digital Defenders Partnership, Digital Rights Foundation, University of Missouri—Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute,

Election Frontier Foundation, Feminist Majority Foundation, Games and Online Harassment Hotline, First Draft, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Free Press Unlimited, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Girl Security,

Global Cyber Alliance, Hollaback!, International Press Institute, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, Journalism & Women Symposium, Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, Media Defence, Ms. Magazine,

Online SOS, PEN America, Press Forward, Rural Digital Youth Resiliency Project, Rory Peck Trust, Reporters Without Borders, Simply Secure, Stop Online Violence Against Women, Tall Poppy, Vita Activa, Vox Media, World Wide Web Foundation and Women’s Media Center.

About the International Center for Journalists

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) empowers a global network of journalists to produce news reports that lead to better governments, stronger economies, more vibrant societies and healthier lives.

We serve our community by providing training, mentoring, fellowships or financial support in five key areas: investigative journalism, critical-issues reporting, media innovation, financial sustainability, and research and resources. Learn more at icfj.org.

About the International Women’s Media Foundation

Founded in 1989, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is the only global non-profit organization that offers emergency support, safety training, grants, skills building and reporting opportunities specifically for female journalists.

We are making more women-produced reporting possible and work tirelessly to ensure a greater diversity of voices represented in the news industry worldwide. Follow the IWMF on Twitter at @IWMF, on Facebook at @IWMFPage and Instagram on @TheIWMF.

                                            Media contact: Erin Stock, estock@icfj.org, 202-349-7636

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