The Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) has become the latest title to launch a campaign against online abuse suffered by its journalists and members of the public.
In a hard-hitting editorial, editor Laura Collins revealed how she had suffered vile abuse regarding her gender and age when she first took the helm of the paper. And she says YEP staff are constantly having to deal with abuse targeted towards them or the subjects of their articles.
Calling for more civil discourse, the paper has launched its Call It Out campaign encouraging readers to not stand by when they see abuse but to report it.
The YEP’s campaign comes after the StokeonTrentLive website spoke out against on-line racial abuse. And it was announced last month that regional publishers Reach, Newsquest , Archant and JPiMedia were carrying out a survey of abuse targeted towards journalists headed by Samantha Harman editor of the Oxford Mail.
Last week saw the launch of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists and The Independent newspaper launched its Journalism Is Not A Crime campaign amid concerns over the targeting of journalists.
Launching the YEP’s campaign, Collins gave readers examples of the abusive comments targeted towards her staff.
“The reality is these comments barely scratch the surface when it comes to shining a spotlight on the abuse that has been directed towards YEP journalists. These are just a tiny snapshot of some of the appalling messages that some of our reporters – more often than not female – are faced with day in, day out.
“The sad reality is I could fill our entire newspaper with the reams of hateful and abusive comments that the team is forced to monitor each day on our social media channels. It is the equivalent of policing the Wild West.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of the abuse myself, too. People have called into question my credentials as an editor purely because I’m a young woman in a high profile position.
“I shouldn’t have to justify myself just because I’m female. I have worked incredibly hard to get to where I am today. I have dedicated my entire working career to the YEP – from earning my qualifications to become a fully fledged senior reporter, right through to the day I was appointed to lead the team. But when my editorship was announced, the comments that followed on social media were not about my journalistic skills and instead focused on my age and appearance.
“And I probably could have retired already if I had a pound for every time someone disagreed with an article published by the YEP and called for me to be sacked.
“Today this stops. Today we say enough is enough.
“No longer should we sit back and allow the loud voices of a hateful but vocal minority drown the rest of us out.
“We set our own standards of conduct and need to turn the tide against such needless spite and intolerance by calling it out for what it is.”
Collins added that staff at the YEP continually had to remove abuse comments left on the paper’s website.
“Our journalists have been forced to delete, hide and rigorously monitor comments on our social platforms to the extent that it can consume their entire day. There is no off switch. So dire is the situation that this week my team was forced to draw up a new list of abusive and offensive terms to add to the filters on our Facebook page.
“The scale of it has been staggering. We’ve seen racism, misogyny, abuse directed towards victims of crimes, and posts littered with violent and sexual language. The list goes on and on and on.”
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