Canadian journalists are coming together to take a stand against online hate and discrimination. On Oct. 5 the Canadian Association of Journalists released a statement on behalf of a large group of media companies to support journalists who have been targeted online.
This statement was released in response to an incident on Twitter where Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, released the emails of three journalists telling the public to “play dirty” towards them.
These journalists were faced with several emails threatening their safety and lives and calling them derogatory words.
Many journalists throughout their careers have dealt with hate and harassment, especially with the rise of social media making it easier for them to be targeted. For journalism teachers and students, the way they act and think has had to change.
Kelly Roche, a journalism professor at Humber College, has created a space for her students and adapted the way she teaches to prepare students for any incidents that might occur once they enter the industry.
Roche said she has a very holistic approach to teaching, providing her students with resources provided by Humber College and other mental health resources for students to protect their mental health and ensure they listen to their minds and bodies when reporting on things that may make them uncomfortable.
Roche said about her teaching style, she has always recommended having both professional and personal accounts across social media to protect yourself from people who may have negative things to say about you.
The reality for many journalism school students is they need to mentally prepare themselves for the hate and discrimination that they may receive. Cristina Galle, a recent graduate from the post-grad diploma program at Humber said that she tends to stay away from even mentioning that she is a journalist.
“I’m at the point where I’m like, ‘okay this is probably going to happen to me and I’m going to need to mentally prepare myself for that eventually happening,” she said. “It’s happened to other people and there’s nothing special about me where it’s not going to happen to me so … I think the only thing we can do is do our jobs as best as we can.”
Galle said that although she is not in the industry right now, she has prepared herself knowing that no matter what she does, people are going to find issues with what journalists have to say regardless.
Galle mentioned that because she is so passionate and has always wanted to be a journalist, she was prepared for whatever might come her way, saying that you don’t go into journalism without full passion because something like online hate could make you change your mind.
Santiago Arias Orozco, 18, a second year student in the advanced diploma journalism program at Humber had similar thoughts. An international student from Colombia, Orozco said he knows being part of a minority group in Canada is going to affect him in some ways.
“Seeing the comments so hateful didn’t backboard me from going into this profession. It more concerns me to see how much journalists need to work and society needs to improve to get to that change of inclusivity,” he said.