Online Safety Guide for Journalists published

The Media Lawyers Association has published a guide for journalists to combat online harassment and abuse

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport commissioned the report as part of its commitment to the National Action Plan for Journalists’ Safety, although the guide is entirely independent of DCMS.

This Guide has been written by Beth Grossman, a barrister in Doughty Street’s Media Team and strategic input has been provided by Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a leading expert in international human rights law and the safety of journalists. This guide draws upon her experience of having advised and assisted journalists dealing with online harassment and fearing for their safety. 

Threats to journalist safety may take many forms. The “new frontline”  is online harassment and abuse. This phenomenon, of online targeting of journalists, has been described as “one of the gravest threats to press freedom.” It is possible for journalists to take action. Taking action may be daunting, and the different options are sometimes technically complex or difficult to navigate. 

Our aim is to provide a practical guide for journalists, and those who support them, so that they can understand the different options they have for combatting online harassment and abuse, develop a strategy for doing so, and take immediate steps in highly stressful situations. 

Our thanks go to the MLA, and to John Battle (Head of the MLA and Head of Legal and Compliance at ITN), Zoe Norden (Deputy Director of Editorial Legal Services at Guardian News and Media), and Sophie Argent (at the time of writing an in-house lawyer at ITN/Channel 4 News) for their work on the guide and also  to Cian Murphy for his assistance with its preparation.