OnlineSOS was established to help people live and work free from fear. And although our initiative supports journalists facing online abuse, we know the line between online threats and offline consequences is thin.
We are extremely alarmed by the targeting of and violence against journalists this past week. We condemn all violence against journalists and, especially, stand in support of Black journalists who—in addition to performing professional duties—bear the disproportionate burden of personal and professional precarity, educating colleagues and friends on racism, being profiled by police, and mourning loss.
A free press is the cornerstone of our nation’s ongoing democratic experiment. Individuals must not only be able, but empowered and safe, to tell stories of loss, outrage and injustice—without fear. They must be safe to engage in public action, expose state-sponsored abuse and hold power to account.
Yet the president denounces journalists as “the enemy of the people”. Police batter reporters or arrest them on live television with impunity. We’ve also witnessed an escalation in threats against journalists or attempts to discredit them, crossing over from online forums to in-person harassment, insults and intimidation.
We ask newsrooms to be especially sensitive and provide support to Black staff, including freelancers and contractors. The current atmosphere consists of more than long working hours. Journalists need mental space to process, mourn, and disconnect.
In support of protestors and activists, we also ask for sensitivity when publishing photos and media that could reveal an individual's identity, putting them in danger of targeting, surveillance, and prosecution.
And, core to our mission at OnlineSOS, we reiterate that online and offline lives are not separate. Online targeting, harassment, and silencing of journalists and activists is violence—acutely so against Black journalists and activists and, even more specifically, Black women. Threats don’t subside when journalists get home from work. Impersonation, bot attacks, threats of violence, doxxing, vile comments, attempts to discredit work, mob harassment and targeted campaigns threaten, oppress and silence individuals at all times.
Today, we’re donating $1,000 to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). We ask that you support the work of Black journalists and other individuals or organizations working to amplify stories coming out of underrepresented communities.
We welcome your thoughts, feedback and insights. Please get in touch at team [at] onlinesos.org
In solidarity and with love,
The OnlineSOS Team
Readings and Resources:
On being a Black journalist in this moment:
- The Terror of Wearing Both a Press Badge and Black Skin
- AMERICAN DIARY: To be black and a journalist at this moment
- Black Journalists Are Exhausted
- George Floyd and the special hell reserved for black journalists covering his killing
Other resources and support: