We mark World Press Freedom Day in the midst of a disturbing rise in anti-media harassment.
We have long fought for press freedom overseas. But now our fight is also on the home front, and it’s not against an authoritarian government — it’s against some of our fellow Canadians.
In the last year, many journalists, including CWA Canada members, have been receiving vile sexist and racist comments and threats on social media, usually by right-wing trolls. Women and people of colour, in particular, have been targeted.
We also witnessed disgusting behaviour during the so-called “freedom convoy” in Ottawa and across the country as some of our colleagues were intimidated, swarmed, cursed and spat at, and even assaulted.
Journalism is a pillar of democracy. If journalists feel threatened doing their jobs, important stories may go untold, and democracy is undermined.
This harassment and hate must not be tolerated. It is vital that journalists are protected. We have been working with journalism groups, the labour movement, academics and employers on a strategy to stop the campaign of hate.
Our coalition, led by the Canadian Association of Journalists, released report on the problem in February. You can read it here.
We are also part of the Canada Press Freedom Project which will soon be monitoring, and reporting on, press freedom violations in this country.
We will not let up in our fight for press freedom; it’s a fight we can’t afford to lose.
As journalism goes, so goes democracy.