Story by 2014 Fellow Elaine Rita Mendus | Video by Macrina Newhouse | Photos by Ellie Van Houtte
While online harassment has always been an issue, it has become a big topic among journalists recently, as the recent Gamergate debacle only underlined the importance of this discussion at CAMP. Veteran journalists Mary Curtis, Susy Schultz and Michele Weldon discussed the issue of harassment on the Internet, harassment prior to the Internet and ways to counter harassment.
Women in the session were asked to post on a corkboard an insulting or harassing comment left for them on a story. And every woman on the panel relayed a tale of harassment, threats or physical stalking.
Curtis, who is African American, noted that her harassment tended to be oriented toward her race. One of her posts ended up on a white supremacist website, drawing the ire of that group. Schultz told the audience how she was actually stalked by a reader, and Weldon brought up a hate piece she was attacked with on a website named after her, “F*** you, Michele Weldon.” Weldon jokingly discouraged people from searching for it, as it was finally not appearing at the top when her name was searched on Google.
The women then explained ways to protect oneself, including using websites to try to locate where hateful messages and tweets were coming from and raising awareness that they were being harassed with friends, colleagues and family.
Women in the audience shared stories, too, as well as the upsetting trend that bosses did not seem to take online harassment seriously. Some women recalled how their editors poorly dealt with complaints of harassment even when presented with evidence of it, or simply brushed off the complaint.
These women were encouraged to report instances of harassment to HR as well, and even the police department. Having the incidents on record, as well as the failure of an employer to do anything about them, is important.
Watch the video by Macrina Newhouse below to hear more about the comments on online harassment.