European Federation of Journalists

Serbia: IJAS launches new platform for the safety of journalists “On The Line”

Credits: IPI

The European Federation of Journalists welcomes the initiative of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) to launch a new platform for the online safety of journalists, “On The Line“. The platform is based on a protocol written by the International Press Institute (IPI) and gathers resources and tools designed to help newsrooms and journalists deal with online threats. It was created following the increasing number of online hate speech in the country. Two sections refer specifically to online menaces and attacks on female journalists and on freelance journalists.

The protocol is based on the importance of peer support and cooperation, the moderation of user comments, and the value in a legal evaluation of cases. The guidelines that can be found on the platform are thought out to help newsrooms properly implement mechanisms designed to protect journalists target of online attacks. A focus is on the professional and emotional impact resulting from this form of harassment. In addition to the guidelines and as part of the website, legal assistance and psychological support are available with the objective that no journalist should be left alone to deal with a case.

The platform contains numerous interviews with international experts giving advice on how to deal with the public on the Internet and how to act in the event of an online attack. Amongst those experts, some have been the targets of online attacks themselves. Similarly, testimonies of female journalists who have gone through these types of attacks and who talk about how they dealt with the situation are available.

Another idea behind the platform is that due to a competitive work environment or precarious work situation, journalists may worry that reporting an attack will be perceived as a sign of weakness or a lack of professional standards, and that it will negatively affect their careers. On The Line insists on the importance of creating a safety culture in the newsroom, one within which journalists are encouraged to report violence on the Internet and are given support. It is essential to speak openly about online abuse to limit its effects.

The “On the Line” platform was created as part of a project financed by the European Union, which is jointly implemented by IJAS and BIRN in cooperation with the International Press Institute (IPI). IJAS and BIRN would like to thank the International Press Institute for providing the text and video materials originally published on its platform.