Author: Kathryn

The Threats to Female Journalists Are Not Just Threats

The Threats to Female Journalists Are Not Just Threats

Death threats. Racist taunts. Vows of violence. Inside the increasingly personal attacks targeting Canadian female journalists.

These are just some of the most common threats to female journalists in the United States and Canada.

On Friday alone, a woman in Michigan received a death threat for her work — made with a rifle — while a white woman in the U.K. received a letter addressed to her daughter in which she is depicted as a white supremacist. In Toronto, a photo from a political meeting was shared over social media of reporters sitting down to a white male reporter, who is depicted with red circles for eyes and his head partially covered. In Florida, a journalist’s car was vandalized and several buildings were damaged when a suspect — a man wearing a Nazi uniform — reportedly threatened a television reporter for the network he works for.

“It is important for female journalists to know that they’re not targets for hate crimes,” said Mary Wareham, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The threats to female journalists came as the American Association of Journalists held a conference in Washington, D.C., where thousands of female journalists from across the country are gathering to promote equality.

They are discussing ways to address workplace bias and harassment, including the idea of instituting a “code of conduct,” a rule of conduct that would prohibit verbal attacks and make the job of journalists a little bit more safe.

The discussion of workplace bias comes as women in the United States are much more likely to face workplace discrimination and harassment than men. In 2015, the Census Bureau found that women held 40% of the clerical, administrative and professional jobs in the U.S., with only 17% of them holding leadership positions.

“It is incumbent upon all journalists to be vigilant in the face of threats and attacks and to come forward to be treated with the same fairness and respect as everyone else,” Wareham said.

The idea of a code of conduct is not new, but many have criticized those who suggest it would be a way of policing journalists’ speech and conduct. Some fear that such a code of conduct would be used against them.

“If it is not the rule of law and that there are consequences, this may be dangerous,” said Robert Seldon, a professor of law at Harvard University and advocate of the “First Amendment Defense Act.

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