NUJ calls for action against threats to journalists

Shauna Burdis

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to take action against anyone who threatens violence against a journalist or member of the media. 

The call for action was sparked by the renewed threats against Sunday World journalist Patricia Devlin. The Co. Derry reporter has been subjected to multiple death threats due to her coverage of paramilitaries.

In a Twitter post, the NUJ stated: “#NUJ members offer support and solidarity with @trishdevlin. The authorities must identify and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.

“There should be no impunity for death threats against journalists in Northern Ireland.”

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary also said: “This latest threat is an attempt to stop journalists from reporting on current, turbulent events in Northern Ireland. It is also part of a wider trend of increasing threats since the first lockdown.

“Those behind threats need to feel the full force of the law, this is the most effective way to defend and protect media freedom and public interest journalism in Northern Ireland.

“Social media organisations must also ensure that their platforms are not abused to target journalists. Women journalists, in particular, are regularly targeted on social media and this is an added dimension to the current toxic atmosphere endured by many journalists.” Said Dooley.

Last year, a study by the International Center of Journalists (ICFJ) and UNESCO found that nearly three-quarters of women journalists say that they have been subjected to online abuse, harassment, threats, and attacks. 

73 per cent of female journalists who participated in the UNESCO/ ICFJ survey say they have experienced online violence directed at them throughout the course of their work. 

 According to the United Nations, from 2006 to 2019, close to 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public’s attention. 

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “If we do not protect journalists, our ability to remain informed and make evidence-based decisions is severely hampered. 

 “When journalists cannot do their jobs in safety, we lose an important defence against the pandemic of misinformation and disinformation that has spread online.”

Shauna Burdis

Image credit: NUJ

Note: This article was reuploaded on 26/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.