Online harassment of U.S. women journalists and its impact on press freedom
Keywords:Online harassment, press freedom, women journalists, chilling effect, First Amendment, media and Democracy
This investigation aimed to determine whether and how online harassment affects U.S. women journalists. Of particular interest was whether online harassment creates a chilling effect by limiting the types of stories and topics that are covered, which may influence press freedom. The survey (n=141) indicated that negative online interactions caused most participants to feel dissatisfied with their jobs. A chilling effect on coverage was also evident in responses from participants. Some respondents avoided certain stories for fear of online abuse they would receive. An overwhelming majority of U.S. women journalists (79 percent) agreed that online harassment affected press freedom. In the United States, a free and fair press is an essential component of our democracy. This study found that online harassment prevents women journalists from serving in their capacity as a watchdog on government and other institutions.
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