“Not Their Fault, but Their Problem”: Organizational Responses to the Online Harassment of Journalists

Avery E. Holton, Valérie Bélair-Gagnon, Diana Bossio, Logan Molyneux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Journalists are increasingly reporting that online harassment has become a common feature of their working lives, contributing to experiences of fatigue, anxiety and disconnection from social media as well as their profession. Drawing on interviews with American newsworkers, this study finds at least three distinct forms of harassment: acute harassment such as generalized verbal abuse, chronic harassment occurring over time and often from the same social media users and escalatory harassment that is more personalized and directly threatening. Women journalists said they especially are experiencing chronic and escalatory forms of harassment. Journalists also discussed a perceived lack of systemic efforts on the part of news organizations to address such harassment, leaving journalists to search for preventative and palliative coping mechanisms on their own. Such labor may be driving journalists’ disconnection from social media as well as the profession of journalism and highlights a growing need for news organizations to address harassment as a systemic, rather than individual, issue. The mental health and well-being of journalists may depend on such action, especially at a time when more journalists are reporting fatigue, burnout, and a desire to exit the profession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-874
Number of pages16
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 5 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Burnout
  • harassment
  • journalists
  • management
  • mental health
  • news organizations
  • newspapers
  • social media


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