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08 April 2021

Female Journalist Speaks Of Abuse On Social Media

A female journalist has spoken of the vile abuse on social platforms including a “too ugly to get raped” comment posted after sharing a video designed to raise awareness of safety concerns faced by women.    

Natalie Higgins, the Harrogate and Yorkshire Dales reporter for Greatest Hits Radio, said the comments angered her but that reporting them to Twitter was pointless as the platform claimed the comments do not violate its rules.

On one occasion, Yorkshire Live reported, Natalie shared a TikTok video to raise awareness of the safety concerns faced by women who consider walking home at night - and was promptly swamped with negative comments.

One Twitter user wrote: "Nah, she's too ugly to get raped, she's probably safe." While another wrote: "I think you'll be OK."

"Everyone's got different opinions but just because we [journalists] are conveying the message, we are the ones getting attacked for it," said Natalie.

"Fair enough if you don't agree with a story or the person that's been interviewed but the comments are always specific to the person who wrote the article rather than what's being said in it."

She added: "I find it hard to bite my tongue but at the same time if you don't say anything it's as if you're just sitting back and letting it happen."

A survey of members of the National Union of Journalists in November also found more than half of respondents had experienced online abuse while nearly a quarter had been physically assaulted or attacked.

separate survey conducted by former Oxford Mail editor Samantha Harman found that female journalists face threats of rape, racial abuse, and reporters face having their families threatened and having their personal information published online.

A large majority of respondents said they encounter general abuse online every day, with 40 per cent spending more than an hour each week reading and dealing with it.

Last month, the Government has published the UK’s first national action plan to protect journalists from abuse and harassment. 

The plan has been endorsed by the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, membership of which comprises industry stakeholders including the News Media Association, National Union of Journalists and Society of Editors.