Establish regular meetings between social media or audience departments and journalists to carry out a “health check” related to journalist’s work on social media or engagement on online comment sections. Social media editors and heads of audience can help journalists understand patterns behind online attacks and who might be behind them. Among other things, this type of knowledge can:
• Help journalists identify online violence if they or a colleague is targeted
• Help journalists maintain distance from attacks by understanding that these are responses to particular interests or topics and not directed at them personally.
Social media and audience editors should consider covering the following items in such meetings:
• Inform journalists of the latest trends on social media and the media outlet’s own forums and comment sections: hashtags aiming to discredit the news outlet, specific campaigns by the state or political parties, the common types of attacks on social media, etc
• Bring up issues that journalists face in their everyday work: E.g., have any of them been targeted? How have they dealt with the attacks and what sort of help do they need from the social media/audience departments?
• Communicate the support mechanisms that exist and how to access
These “health checks” should be carried out every three months or more often in case of a political crisis or civil unrest or ahead of elections.