From bytes to backlash. Looking at online harassment of journalists from an intersectional perspective

Van bytes naar backlash. Online intimidatie van journalisten vanuit een intersectioneel perspectief
Start - End 
2017 - 2020 (completed)
Other institution(s) 
Ghent University Department of Communication Studies
Research Focus 



This project explores online harassment in Flemish journalism from an intersectional perspective. Studies have shown that online harassment is a gendered issue. Female journalists are disproportionally confronted with name-calling, verbal and physical threats, stalking and sexual harassment in digital spaces. This can result in self-censorship and can have a chilling effect on their freedom of speech. Although traditional forms of harassment and sexism in newsrooms have been extensively documented by feminist media scholars, little is known about the characteristics and the dynamics of harassment in the online environment. This project aims to address this gap in the current research by means of a multi-method study that combines digital ethnography with survey research and qualitative interviews. The three central research questions focus on different aspects of online harassment in journalism: 1) How are discourses of online harassment constructed and articulated? 2) How do journalists experience online harassment? 3) How do media companies respond to online harassment of journalists? The analysis will pay particular attention to intersectionality, more specifically to the intersection of gender with age, sexuality and ethnicity. The overall aim of the project is to raise awareness about overt and subtle forms of digital harassment and provide a foundation for initiatives aimed at countering online abuse in journalism.