‘A modern-day equivalent of the Wild West’: preparing journalism students to be safe online

Jenny Kean, Abbey Maclure

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Journalists are increasingly becoming the target of online abuse; the backlash over the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack and coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests are just two recent examples. Yorkshire Evening Post editor Laura Collins has highlighted how female journalists face the brunt of this abuse, describing social media as ‘a modern-day equivalent of the Wild West’. The fact that journalists are exposed to this kind of attack is becoming an increasing focus; but how are we – as educators – to prepare our journalism students for entering this world? What guidance should we be giving them – to respond or not to respond, to block or not to block? And at what point should they report their experience via more formal channels? The authors of this paper set out to identify strategies and tools for students to help protect themselves and remain resilient in the face of online abuse. Through qualitative interviews, we asked how practising journalists are coping with social media attacks, and what steps they and their employers are taking to protect and support them. The result is a set of guidelines offering practical and emotional advice from journalists to directly inform journalism educators and their students.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages14
    Specialist publicationJournal of the Association for Journalism Education
    Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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