Thursday, February 11th, 2021 #MEAAMedia #womeninmedia Health and safety News
MEAA Online

MEAA has partnered with Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC) and Australian Community Managers (ACM) to launch a pioneering Enhancing Online Safety of Women in the Media project.

GEN VIC has developed three critical resources to help media organisations and publications better support women journalists who experience harassment:

  1. Australian Media Moderation Guidelines: these comment and online discussion moderation guidelines are the industry-standard for Australian media to moderate comment sections using a gender and intersectional lens.
  2. Responding to the Comments: these workplace support guidelines outline organisational responsibilities for helping women journalists deal with the effects of online harassment.
  3. Media Cybersafety Training: this 3-hour training session is designed for HR professionals and management staff at media organisations to develop policies and procedures that are aimed at reducing the traumatic impact and emotional labour of online harassment on journalists.

These much-needed resources have been developed through surveys, interviews and focus groups with women working in the media, and months of extensive consultation with project partners and academic experts in media production and moderation. The resources address a gap in the Australian media industry where responsibility for dealing with online harassment is often left to the journalists who experience it the most.

“When women journalists are left to deal with online harassment on their own, it creates a ‘chilling effect’ on their reporting and drives them away from journalism. A free press is fundamental to a functional democracy, and these resources will help to ensure women journalists feel supported doing their work.” said Tanja Kovac, CEO of GEN VIC.

“The Australian media industry needs to take urgent action to address the impacts of online harassment on women journalists. We have developed these resources to ensure the welfare and safety of women journalists is at the forefront of media organisational policies.”

Adam Portelli, MEAA’s Media Section Director said: “In an age where social media and other online platforms are part of a journalist’s workplace, online abuse and harassment must be treated as a workplace health and safety issue. It is unacceptable that women journalists continue to feel unsafe while doing their job because of bullies and trolls. MEAA is proud to have been involved in the development of this initiative to ensure that safety of women journalists is a priority.”

Project lead Caitlin McGrane said: “Too often the emotional labour of dealing with online harassment and moderating comments falls to those least equipped or empowered to deal with it. In addition to recommending workplaces support women journalists, these resources are the first supported by the media industry in Australia to recommend moderation and community management professionals should be offered counselling and supports to ensure they are able to safely and effectively perform their work.”

The resources will be launched on Thursday 11 February via a Zoom Webinar featuring a panel of expert speakers:

•  Bhakthi Puvanenthiran – Editor, ABC Everyday
•  Dr Julie Posetti – Global Director of Research, International Center for Journalists
•  Karen Percy – Journalist and co-Vice President of MEAA’s Media section
•  Rosalie O’Neale – Manager, eSafety Women, Office of the eSafety Commissioner
•  Wendy Tuohy – Journalist, The Age

Download the Australian Moderation Guidelines here and Responding to the Comments here, or from the GEN VIC website.

Register your interest in the training by emailing Caitlin McGrane.