Panel Four

The Digital safety issues through the Tunisian journalists’ perceptions: Which professional, technical and legal guarantees?

Soumaya Berjeb 

Institute of Press and Sciences of Information (IPSI), University of Manouba

It is undeniable that the issue of Digital safety has been the subject of considerable interest of the Tunisian media in recent years. As a term “Digital Safety” has circulated widely in media discourse and it has marked media coverage during the last period, especially during the elections and the political campaigns. Which generates the confidentiality data’ threats and the emergence of common misconduct on social networks.

As their profession requires more confidentiality and ethical treatment, journalists (especially the investigative ones) aren’t far from different forms of cyberattacks which might threat their information security and privacy. 

In addition, the sensitivity of the journalist’s sources, particularly in certain security, political and economic files obliges the journalists to ensure a high level of digital safety; therefore the electronic security issue has put more pressure on Tunisian journalists.

Subsequently, this research aims to examine the digital security issue among Tunisian journalists, in order to identify their perceptions about cyber security, their uses and their methods to protect their journalistic data of cyberattacks in different contexts. Thus, a problematic question must be asked: 

“How important is the electronic security for Tunisian journalists’ process in recent years?  Do they have professional, practical and legal guarantees to defend their data from cyber-attacks and protect their files from leaks and immoral harassment of hackers?

Key words: Digital safety; Tunisian Journalists; Cyberattacks; Perceptions; Uses 

“This is a mirror of what happens in our society, isn’t it?” women journalists, structural causes and coping mechanisms for gendered online harassment  

Susana Sampaio-Dias (presenting author), Maria João Silveirinha and João Miranda

University of Portsmouth, University of Coimbra/ICNOVA

We research online harassment against women journalists exploring self-reported incidents, effects, and trust in safety mechanisms. Drawing on twenty-five semi-structured interviews of women journalists in Portugal, we explore the causal structures and mechanisms that explain their vulnerability to online abuse. We explored how the deeply embedded structural and cultural mechanisms that generate and perpetuate inequality also enable online harassment. 

Findings show a tendency to normalise online harassment, either because journalists see it as part of their job, or because they refer to it as a problem under-discussed within the class. In most cases, women have not reported instances of harassment, fearing and expecting that their concerns would be perceived as exaggerated or unfounded. They further referred to the underregulated and ineffective mechanisms for protection. With virtually no specific responses from regulators and unions to tackle this issue, journalists are left to develop their own defence mechanisms, which adds an emotional burden to an already stressful trade.

While they tend to deny harassment is caused by their gender, seeing it mainly because of their job, they admit the sexualised and gendered nature of the insults, seeing this as an added offence not experienced by their male counterparts. Young women journalists admitted increased vulnerability when in a situation of precarity, and noted events of discrimination and harassment based on their looks. Generational aspects also signalled different perceptions of gender versus work as a leading cause for harassment, but age, nonetheless, does not seem to affect the perception of cultural attitudes.  Women journalists see harassment as a continuation of inequality and prevailing sexism and find the protection mechanisms insufficient and ineffective. As a result, they assume an extra burden of emotional labour to deal with online bullying, admitting self-censoring, strategic disconnection,  emotional distress and the need to develop resilience strategies.

Data automation tool for analysis of harassment on journalists: the Brazilian experience

Daniela Osvald Ramos and Elizabeth Saad

University of São Paulo 

The increase in attacks on journalists is a global phenomenon. One of the consequences it has generated is the need for regular publication of reports with data on professional safety. In Brazil it is no different, although the diversity of published reports ends up not offering society a uniform space for consulting data. So, we propose the visualization, in digital ambience, of a broader panorama of data reading through a data crossing tool so that research on the historical insecurity of journalists in the country can be better contextualized, both in Portuguese and English, due the globalization of the phenomenon.

The main data source is the annual report produced by the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ). Thus, the series of reports from 1982 to 2021, originally in PDF format, was transformed into a data sheet for insertion into the tool, created with the Django language and hosted in a secure environment, allowing the crossing and dynamic visualization of the data contained in these reports. 

Our objective, besides the tool presentation, is offer a set of data-crossing analysis which could provide the recent panorama of harassments against Brazilian journalists, for example, type of aggressions by gender and media, type of aggressors related to their social status and distribution of cases through different Brazilian regions. 

A wider objective is to make the tool available to research groups who are interested in sharing data. 

Keywords: journalist safety, journalist safety reports, data automation, visualization tool.


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