Good journalists work to ensure that workers’ civil rights and safety are protected.
Yet a new study suggests many of us have work to do within their own news organizations.
Nearly two-thirds of women journalists reported having experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in the course of their work, with the majority of those offenses reportedly committed by male bosses or co-workers, according to the study released Monday by the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute.
The organizations released the study to coincide with the United Nation’s Global Forum on Media and Gender, which began Monday and continues through Wednesday in Bangkok, Thailand.
To be clear, respondents to the groups’ survey were not confined to developing nations. Nearly 22 percent of 875 women surveyed were from North America and another nearly 20 percent were from Europe.
The majority of respondents (721) were reporters. Editors (186) were the next largest group.
"When we talk about safety for the media, we often think in terms of staying safe in war zones, civil unrest and environmental disasters, but how often do we think of the office as a hostile environment?" Hannah Storm, INSI director, asked in a news release.
"Because they are let down by the very people they should be able to trust, the violence and harassment they face goes widely unreported and therefore unpunished," Storm added.
Among the survey’s findings:
• 22.5 percent of women cited abuse of power or authority as the most common threat they face, followed by verbal, written or physical threats and attempts to damage reputation.
• Of 605 who answered a question about whether they had experienced sexual harassment in relation to their work, 46 percent said yes.
• 15.8 percent of the 563 women who responded to a question about racial harassment said they had been harassed.
• Other forms of harassment cited included physical abuse, discrimination based on age and inappropriate digital surveillance and attacks.
The study asked respondents whether their news organizations provided training in how to deal with harassment and intimidation, or counseling after they encountered threats. A majority said they did not.
"The results are a clear indicator of where we need to put our attention in order to provide assistance to those confronting these attacks as well as to develop strategies to mitigate them," IWMF executive director Elisa Lees Munoz said in the release.
The organizations continue to collect data. The survey is available here.
Their intent, according to the release, is to release additional case studies and analysis to coincide with International Women’s Day in March, at which time they’ll recommend ways to improve safety and civil rights for women journalists worldwide.
Meanwhile, it’s up to those of us who work in the industry to make sure we’re creating safe, productive environments for women — and all employees.
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