Fake news purveyors, enemies of the state, infiltrators, traitors and a litany of misogynistic, homophobic and racist epithets are so commonly hurled at journalists and media workers they form part of the landscape they are expected to navigate as part of their daily professional lives. The normalisation of online harassment, threats and smear campaigns, reinforced by rampant anti-media sentiment, pollutes the media freedom climate and may encourage journalists to step away from certain topics in the public interest or avoid journalism altogether. The three panelists speaking here, based in Northern Ireland, Croatia and Belgium have been targeted by paramilitaries, far-right extremists and misogynists solely for their journalism and online conversations related to their reporting. Chaired by the European Federation of Journalists, this session will document the lived experience of being a journalist in this hostile environment, explore how they can continue their important work and identify ways this can be stopped.
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MFRR Summit | A Hostile Continent: Online harassment, threats and smear campaigns
March 20 @ 12:00 - 13:00Free
- Patricia Devlin, Sunday World (Northern Ireland, UK)
- Anja Kožul, Portal Novosti (Croatia)
- Tanja Milevska, MIA News Agency (Belgium)
- CHAIR: Camille Petit, European Federation of Journalists (Belgium)
Patricia Devlin is an award winning crime journalist with the Sunday World newspaper in Northern Ireland. Over two years, she has received multiple death threats from both organized crime and paramilitary gangs for reporting on their criminal activities. The most recent being that she would be shot dead by a loyalist paramilitary group at a specified location in Belfast. Her family has also been targeted, with criminals threatening to rape her newborn son. Twenty years on from the murder of her Sunday World colleague Martin O’Hagan, gunned down by loyalist terrorists in 2001, she says impunity still exists. O’Hagan’s murderers – suspected police informants – still walk the streets. Like his killers, those who harass, threaten and intimidate Devlin and her family seem immune to arrest and prosecution. Last year, she filed a formal complaint against the Police Service of Northern Ireland for failing to adequately investigate the rape threat against her son.
Anja Kožul was born in 1991 in Knin, Croatia. She finished high school in Zagreb, and studied journalism in Belgrade. She gained her first work experience on Radio Belgrade 202, and for two years she was an external associate of the European Capital of Culture – Rijeka 2020. Collaborated in the children’s magazine Brickzine and the media platform VICE Serbia. Anja works for the independent Serbian weekly newspaper Novosti, Zagreb, where she mostly deals with the rights of the Serbian national minority in Croatia and other minority communities.
Tanja Milevska is a Belgo-Macedonian journalist. She is the Brussels correspondent for the national Macedonian news agency, MIA where she covers EU affairs, mostly EU enlargement, as well as NATO. She has worked as a journalist for the past 16 years, for a variety of media outlets, including AP, EurActiv, Equal Times, CBS. She is a vocal feminist, which has led to massive waves of online and offline harassment and threats.
Camille Petit is working as a Communications and Project officer at the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) based in Brussels. She studied journalism in France and holds a masters degree in European studies from la Sorbonne Nouvelle. Prior to joining the EFJ in 2016, Camille worked as a journalist for French-speaking media outlets.