Becky Gardiner and Javier Luque discussing measures and specific actions to tackle online harassment with editors and journalists from the Helsingin Sanomat during a workshop in their offices in Helsinki, Finland, on December 5, 2019.


Newsrooms are often the first line of defense for journalists targeted with online harassment and abuse.

To bolster newsrooms’ ability to protect their staff, IPI has developed an online course for editors, newsroom managers and heads of audience. The course will present best practices for dealing with online abuse drawn from experts in more than 40 newsrooms across Europe. It aims to help newsrooms establish an easy-to-follow protocol to prevent the emotional toll online abuse can take on journalists and protect the news outlet’s reputation in the face of smear campaigns.

The course is by invitation only and will take place via Zoom. Participants will be divided in two groups according to the type and size of their media outlet in order to develop a protocol based on each outlet’s particular resources and characteristics.

The course consists of a total of 4 sessions lasting 1.5 hours each taking place between June and August. The sessions will be led by Becky Gardiner, who developed the first online abuse protocol at the Guardian newspaper and who is now a professor of journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The sessions will NOT be recorded in order to encourage the exchange of experiences among participants.

The instructor

Becky Gardiner has been a journalist since 1990, working mainly as an editor in both print and digital media.

She has held several senior editorial posts, most recently comment editor at the Guardian (2010-14). During her 16 years at the Guardian, she held a number of other posts including deputy editor of G2, education editor, women’s editor, launch editor of the family section and editor of the award-winning Comment is free website. Gardiner helped to develop the first guidelines to address online harassment at the Guardian, one of the first newspapers worldwide to develop such protocol.


Becky Gardiner and Javier Luque conducting a workshop on how to tackle online harassment at SME newsroom, Slovakia, November 5, 2019.

SESSION 1 | Building an effective protocol: initial steps

In this first session participants will audit the impact of online harassment among the staff in their newsroom, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the measures that they currently have in place.

Group 1: Wednesday, June 23 at 2 PM CEST / Group 2: Thursday, June 24 at 10 AM CEST

SESSION 2 | Prevention: putting systems in place to minimise impact

Newsrooms cannot entirely prevent online attacks. However, they can make them less likely, and they can minimise the harm that they can do when they do occur. This session focuses on creating structures: From establishing formal and informal reporting mechanisms in order to encourage journalists to report online abuse, to developing an effective moderation of abuse both on-site and on social media platforms to protect journalists from exposure and protect the news outlet’s reputation.

Group 1: Wednesday, July 21 at 2 PM CEST / Group 2: Thursday, July 22 at 10 AM CEST

SESSION 3 | Recovery: attacks will still happen, what do we do then?

This session will provide participants with the know-how to conduct a risk assessment when online attacks occur and effectively plan out a response based on various support mechanisms, follow-up and reassessment.

Group 1: Wednesday, August 11 at 2 PM CEST / Group 2: Thursday, August 12 at 10 AM CEST

SESSION 4 | Blueprint: putting the protocol in practice

By now, participants will have learned the finer points about designing a blueprint for preventing  online attacks and how to respond when they still occur. This final session will focus on implementing that protocol: What are your priorities? What can be put in place quickly, and what will take more time? How can you manage these with the resources you have? How will you communicate your plans for a new protocol with your staff?

Group 1: Wednesday, August 25 at 2 PM CEST / Group 2: Thursday, August 26 at 10 AM CEST



In case of questions, please contact Javier Luque, IPI’s Head of Digital Communications and coordinator of IPI’s Newsrooms Ontheline project: [email protected].

Becky Gardiner and Javier Luque conducting a workshop at HVG’s offices in Budapest, Hungary, on November 20, 2019.