University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Online Trolls, Journalism and the Freedom of Speech: Are the Bullies Taking Over?

Wolfe, Claire ORCID: (2019) Online Trolls, Journalism and the Freedom of Speech: Are the Bullies Taking Over? Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, 16 (1). pp. 11-21. ISSN 1742-0105

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This paper explores the legal and ethical challenges faced by journalists in retaining open channels of discourse online. Quantitative and qualitative research involving twenty experienced reporters, twenty new media industry recruits and forty journalism undergraduates assesses the extent to which internet trolls impacted on their work. It found that while the sample was required to have an online presence and to interact with their audiences through social media, they received little guidance in dealing with abuse and threats. A significant number, including the journalism students developing their online presence, felt that hostile experiences had affected their ability to express themselves freely. This has an impact on a journalist’s critical role as a guardian of free speech in a democratic society. Social media adds to the pressures on journalists and raises concerns over the effectiveness of existing complaint mechanisms. A case is made for more support from both educators and the media industry to ensure these freedoms are not eroded.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

A presentation of this paper was made at the Institute of Communication Ethics Annual Conference (Frontline Club, London) on the 26th October 2018.
The full-text of the online published article can be accessed via the Official URL.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: internet, trolls, journalism, freedom, social media,democracy, ethics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Claire Wolfe
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2020 08:06

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