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Canadian News Mar 21, 2022 7:22 PM EST

University of Ottawa plans panel on journalists getting 'mean tweets'

Media personalities will be participating in a live podcast to discuss their experiences with online harassment and "mean tweets" as experienced by journalists.

University of Ottawa plans panel on journalists getting 'mean tweets'
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC

Media personalities will be participating in a live podcast to discuss their experiences with online harassment and "mean tweets" as experienced by journalists.

"Join us for a conversation with Rosemary Barton, Fatima Syed and Mark Blackburn to discuss online harassment, discrediting journalism, and what incivility means for our democratic systems," the event's description reads.

"It’s no secret that journalists have faced increasing harassment over the past few years," it continues, citing  an IPSOS survey of Canadian journalists in November 2021 that found that 72 percent had experienced some form of harassment over the past year, with 65 percent of this abuse occurring online.

"From personal attacks to accusations of bias or being 'fake news,' negativity directed at journalists can have a serious impact on when and how credible information is shared and found," it states.

The event will be a live-recorded version of the Wonks and War Rooms podcast hosted by "political communication expert Dr. Elizabeth Dubois."

Rosemary Barton, chief political correspondent for CBC, Fatima Syed, host of The Backbench podcast (Canadaland) and vice-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, and Mark Blackburn, online producer for APTN will all be on the panel.

"They will talk about increasingly toxic online spaces and tackle tricky questions: What can we do to cultivate civic engagement between individuals and news media? What counts as incivility and who is a troll? How can we encourage broad civic engagement while discouraging harassment? How do we create safer environments for journalists?"

Last year, the CBC decided that it would turn off Facebook comments on posts after so-called "social media attacks" on journalists.

CBC editor-in-chief Brodie Felton said at the time that the mental health of journalists is just too fragile to allow public commentary. He wrote: "Compounding the stress and anxiety of journalists is the vitriol and harassment many of them face on social media platforms and, increasingly, in the field."

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