For the news organization, showing public support for a journalist under attack sends the message that the organization stands behind its staff and views attacks on its journalists as an attack on the institution as a whole. In many cases, this support can help generate further support from the public toward journalists under attack and raise awareness about online harassment and its consequences. However, depending the case, it might be better to keep a low profile so as to avoid placing the focus on the journalist and thereby potentially encouraging greater attacks.
The following criteria should be used when considering whether or not to issue a public statement of support:
• Will it amplify the attack?
• Will it incite further harassment generally? Consider that it might reinforce the story that harassers may already be selling about “powerful” news organizations attacking the “little guy”.
• Will it harm any legal case that the news organization is considering filing?
Decisions about whether to issue a public statement should be made by a committee of relevant actors in the newsroom: management, editors, legal representative, head of audience, online safety expert and the targeted journalist. Public statements should not be issued against the wishes of the journalist concerned.