Tag Archives: harassment

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Facing hostility comes with the territory of being a reporter.

Your job is to ask pointed and sometimes uncomfortable questions, so you’ve got to have a thick skin.

I’ve been harassed by corrupt cops I exposed, browbeaten and threatened by readers and subjected to bizarre low-level stalking by a conspiracy theorist and his followers.

I know other journalists who have endured far, far worse.

A friend and former colleague, ambien pregnancy risks, was surrounded once in the mid-1990s by an angry mob of men in a Hasidic Jewish village in New York who were hellbent on trying to intimidate her. (It didn’t work.)

My friend Leslie-Jean Thornton, a journalism professor at Arizona State University, had her own story to share last week at a panel discussion, “Journalists in the Hot Seat: Staying Safe in a Hostile Political Climate,” hosted by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

She recounted how as the editor of a newspaper in Westchester County, N.Y., in 1990, she was subjected to persistent phone calls of the sounds of gunshots after she wrote an editorial about anti-abortion protesters who had distributed plastic fetuses in the local elementary school and put postcards with disturbing images in mailboxes.

As scary as those stories were, they were largely one-off occurrences.

They were not part of a pervasive and persistent pattern of animus – bordering on doing physical harm — toward members of the press.

That’s changed.

For about the past year, I’ve had a notion to write about the news media under fire.

Even after watching reporters regularly get jeered at presidential rallies, even after newsroom discussions of how to respond in case of an active shooter (Run. Hide. Fight.) and even after the unimaginable shootings at The Capital Gazette in Maryland that claimed the lives of five journalists, I felt like, nah, maybe I was just too close to the topic.

Maybe I was too paranoid or sensitive.

Maybe I was blowing things out of proportion.

And then I heard the panelists at this conference last week enumerate the ways the threats have escalated.

Networks have taken to hiring their own private security to protect certain high-profile news reporters when they are in the field.

There’s been a significant increase in death threats to reporters, especially those who have challenged the White House press secretary, panelists said.

And unrelated to politics, a panelist recounted how a young reporter at a small newspaper got death threats over a crime scene photo she took.

Thornton did a deep dive into the world of Instagram and found numerous disturbing memes depicting – and sometimes celebrating – violence against the press.

There was a press pass with a target superimposed on it.

Another read: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.”

And another featured the logos of major news outlets, such as The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post, with bullet holes and “Trump 2018” on the bottom.

Tomorrow, newspapers in editorials across the country are banding together to speak with one voice about President Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about the press.

Among other things, he’s called the news media “the enemy of the people” and “very dangerous and sick!”

His repeated pronouncements have been seen as an incitement to violence.

(A caller to C-SPAN recently threatened to shoot CNN hosts Brian Stelter And Don Lemon, saying: “They started the war. If I see ’em, I’m going to shoot ’em.”)

The attacks come at time that newspapers have been ravaged by deep cuts, leaving voters less informed and elected officials less engaged. Local governments face higher borrowing costs because the lack of local watchdog reporting holds them less accountable, Columbia Journalism Review reported.

Faced with growing concerns for our safety and security and at the same time the need more than ever for a vigilant press, what’s the answer?

Hide?

Run?

Fight.

Yes, fight.

Not with guns, but with our work.

About Men: Yes, Slappy, it Really is Harassment

This controversial public service announcement video created by Hollaback, an organization dedicated to ending street harassment is intended to be a social experiment highlighting the routine sexual harassment females deal with daily. It features a young woman walking around New York City for 10 hours and the unwanted attention she gets despite not being dressed provocatively or engaging with the men she encounters on the street in any way.

I first saw the video posted by my fellow AMR contributor Pedro on the About Men Radio Facebook newsfeed. Shortly thereafter it had gone, as the hip kids say these days, viral.

Quite frankly I was disgusted more by the YouTube commenters than by the extra creepy guy in the video that follows the girl uncomfortably close and silently for 5 minutes. A typical New Yorker walks a block in a minute so unless my math is off here…this guy shadowed her for 5 blocks!

I am a fiercely proud Argentine and spent my late teens and early twenties in Buenos Aires.  Argentine men (just like Italians, which is also in my blood) are piroperos fond of throwing out piropos, a catcall, to passing women.

In its most traditional sense el piropo is supposed to be a very complimentary, flattering and non-rude line. Sort of like a well crafted pickup. When employed correctly it should be almost poetic. The intended effect is to bring a smile to a woman’s lips. Sadly, most modern piropos are lacking in poetry and too many piroperos in Argentina are just plain rude and harassing.

I recall hanging out with friends in Buenos Aires and some of them throwing out the occasional piropo. I refused to. One day I spoke up against someone in my group who let fly with an especially rude piropo that visibly upset the recipient but titillated the rest of the guys I was with.

I was verbally pounced on after suggesting to the graceless piropero in my group that they should have some respect. Things escalated with harsh words and threats hurled my way by several of the others. Before things became physical I countered (in Spanish), “How would you fu@#ing feel if that was your girlfriend or your mother?”

That certainly defused the situation but I never really hung out with some of those guys again.

I’m not suggesting I wouldn’t take an admiring glance and quietly comment to myself or a buddy on a fine figure walking by. I would.  I just never felt that urge to piropear and I most certainly wouldn’t be pressured into it by some clueless lunkheads.

Some commenters on YouTube felt the woman in the Hollaback video should have felt flattered by the attention and just let it be. Really?!?! Let who be?!?! The creep walking with her for 5 minutes. Or the other guy continually asking her why she didn’t want to be friends? Or any of the other creeps who kept hurling UNSOLICITED comments her way?

It’s all unwelcome and it is most definitely harassment.

But don’t take my word for it, ask your sister.  Ask your wife.  Ask your mom…

Photo: American Girl in Italy by Ruth Orkin