The first-ever Canadian survey of online harassment against journalists and media professionals shows that attacks are on the rise and having serious repercussions on both individuals and the industry as a whole.
The survey finds that:
Harassment is prevalent and pervasive — 72% experienced some form of harassment in the past year. Harassment online is most common — 65% experienced harassment online. One in five experience online harassment weekly or more frequently.
Online harassment isn’t criticism, it’s personal — The most common forms of harassment are sexualized messages or images, physical threats, comments related to gender identity and ethnicity or nationality, and use of people’s names or images without their permission.
Harassment includes death threats — Just over one in ten of those who have experienced online harassment have received a death threat in the course of their work; nearly as many received threats against their family, were threatened with blackmail, or were threatened with rape or sexual assault.
Women, BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ people are at greater risk — They face disproportionately more online harassment than others, as well as greater severity of harassment. LGBTQ2+ respondents report the highest prevalence of online harm of any group — 78% in the past year (compared to 65% for all respondents).
Noted News Media Canada, representing Canadian Newspapers and online journalists, “The impact of online abuse is devastating — One in four experience mental health challenges as a result of the harassment and one in three have considered leaving journalism or the media industry in the last 12 months. Losing these voices is bad for democracy.”
The survey was hosted by Ipsos between September 27th and October 13th 2021, and was conducted online in English and French. Invitations were distributed widely via 12 journalism associations and Canadian media organizations. A total of 1,093 journalists and media workers participated in the survey.
The full report can be downloaded here.