Beyond Fake News – Threats to the Life and Work of Journalists

It’s one thing to have US President Trump call the Washington media core “bad people”, it’s another to have the president of a country lock up dissenting voices, and this is the challenge facing many journalists today.

Set against jail, solitary confinement and torture, the challenges of Western writers pale in significance to those in countries lacking media freedom and plurality.

Bullets in the post, intimidation, violence, stalking, harassment via social media, hate speech, or surveillance in restrictive regimes

On the back of an increase in threats to media freedom the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is taking up the issue of “Defending Journalists under Threat: Solidarity, Support and Safe Houses” in Leipzig next month.

ECPMF say: “Prosecution of journalists in Turkey, frequent attacks on media workers in Hungary, Poland and Ukraine, accreditations withdrawn at the G20 summit in Germany and daily harassment through verbal abuse and hate speech… threats to journalists and violations of media freedom are on the increase across Europe.”

Harlem Désir, the OSCE’s new Representative on Freedom of the Media, will deliver a keynote.

Media workers under threat, high-profile experts, politicians and representatives of support networks will discuss various legal, practical and political approaches to improve the current situation. Legal assistance for whistle-blowers and their journalistic contacts will also be covered.

Bullets in the post, intimidation, violence, stalking (specific threats to female media workers), harassment via social media, hate speech (moral injury), or surveillance in restrictive regimes a few of the examples to be covered by a panel in the opening session entitled: contemporary threats to journalists.


Professor Katharine Sarikakis, University of Vienna researches political processes and economic dimensions of media and communications governance, nationally and globally. Sarikakis will present her report: “The Assault on journalism – building knowledge to protect freedom of expression”


Session three highlights approaches to safeguarding writers away from home. Be that cross-border cooperation or support via self-help for journalists dealing with trauma, burnout and PTSD.

Marianne Hovdan, The International Cities of Refuge Network representing refugee Journalists,  Dr Karen Fowler-Watt from Bournemouth University and Dart Center Europe speaking on the psychological implications and approaches to support traumatised journalists are joined by Tommaso Mignani,  Co-coordinator, EU Temporary Relocation Platform, ProtectDefenders who co-ordinate relocation for Journalists under threat.

And while the Dark web and cyber-war, religious radicalisation, sex exploitation, fraud, hate speech and piracy receive mainstream coverage the ECPMF will look for practical solutions to support Journalists under danger or threat; in many cases languishing in jail – often without trial.

The ECPMF event is free and open to media professionals, details here.