With a focus on the #metoo movement and its manifestations online and off, the 62nd annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women sought collaborations and action toward protecting women journalists around the globe. Dr. Michelle Ferrier, founder of Troll-Busters, was an invited panelist on two events hosted by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, “Beyond a Pretty Face: Tackling Gender Bias in Media Industries,” and “MeTooOnline: Workshopping Solutions to Counter Cyber Violence Against Women.”
Online abuse is on the rise, Ferrier said, and journalists globally are under attack. Ferrier said that online harassment has a chilling effect on the journalists who are targets of this activity. Ferrier spoke about creating TrollBusters, a service for “online pest control” that she developed after being targeted as a journalist both online and off. She shared new research from interviews with women journalists and journalists of color published in “TrollBusters: Fighting Online Harassment of Women Journalists,” in Mediating Misogyny released by Palgrave this March.
For women journalists, misogyny is a daily experience, with tweets and comments that erode their reputation and credibility as professionals. For women journalists and journalists of color, their gender and ethnicity impact their ability to effectively do their jobs.
“There is a daily onslaught of misogyny and abuse that women journalists face doing their work,” Ferrier said. “This type of ongoing activity has an emotional impact on journalists. Many think about leaving the profession.”
In “#MeTooOnline,” Ferrier described how online attacks can have offline consequences. She shared the story of a Florida journalists who tried to discredit an imposter tweet attributed to her that went viral after the #Parkland high school shooting.
In “Beyond a Pretty Face,” Ferrier discussed ownership and distribution control as strategies to address gender bias in the media. Ferrier teaches media entrepreneurship and digital innovation as an associate professor at Ohio University.
The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women focused on participation in and access of women to the media. Spanning March 12-23 at the United Nations Plaza in Manhattan, organizations including Article 19, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Reporters Sans Frontieres, UNESCO, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and TrollBusters, urged coordinated activities to address online abuse and targeted harassment.
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