Gender Equity Victoria and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) have led a roundtable discussion of decision makers from major Australian media organisations to discuss the findings and recommendations of the ‘Don’t Read the Comments: Enhancing Online Safety for Women Working in the Media’ report, released in October this year.
Representatives from Australia’s major news outlets as well as legal experts and those with lived experience of online abuse were all in attendance and contributed to a robust discussion and strategic planning on the issue of the safety of women journalists online.
“GEN VIC and MEAA launched a petition after the release of our report with hundreds of journalists and community members demanding news organisations take action to keep women journalists safe online. We were incredibly pleased to see so many media outlets take this issue seriously by attending our roundtable,” said Tanja Kovac, CEO of GEN VIC.
The report recommends media organisations treat gender-based abuse against women journalists on social media and websites as an issue of health and safety and take responsibility for ensuring they are supported in the aftermath of online violence. It also recommends a pre-comment authentication process, increased support for freelancers, as well as a whole of organization approach and bystander training to address structural sexism.
It was also recognised that stronger regulation of social media giants Facebook and Google is required to tackle the issue. GEN VIC and MEAA will be working together to further advocate for full accountability for perpetrators of online abuse.
“The next step is putting the recommendations into action and we will be working with media organisations to develop and trial new media moderation guidelines, implement bystander training and take a whole of organisational approach to addressing gender inequality and violence against women” said Kovac.
MEAA Victoria and Tasmania Regional Director Adam Portelli said: “There is now a shared recognition that the vile treatment of so many women journalists on a variety of online platforms is a health and safety issue that media organisations must take responsibility for as employers. We look forward to working together to provide support and guidelines to make the online workplace a safer place for women journalists, both in-house and freelance.”