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Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Online Harassment: Strategies for Journalists’ Defense

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and The University of Texas at Austin via Independent


During this four-week course, you will learn about online privacy and how to better protect yourself while working as a journalist. You’ll also learn about the global context of online harassment and hear from female journalists who will speak about the strategies they’ve used to deal with it.


Introduction Module: Course description

During this introductory module you will be able to watch our welcome video where you will find out information about your instructors and the topics they will cover over the coming weeks. You can also check out our reading materials to get you started on the topic of online harassment and its effect on women working in media.

Module 1: Introduction to online harassment

Module one is taught by Arzu Geybulla. Arzu is a freelance journalist from Azerbaijan, currently based in Istanbul. She covers Azerbaijan while some of her recent work looks at the use of information controls and authoritarian technology.

During week one you will gain an insight into online harassment around the world through the stories of women journalists who have experienced it. Arzu and her guest speakers will also teach you coping strategies for dealing with abuse online.

This module will cover:

  • Global overview of online harassment
  • Introduction to research and resources dealing with harassment online
  • Coping strategies for dealing with online harassment

Module 2: Understanding privacy

This module will be taught by Catherine Gicheru. Catherine is an ICFJ Knight fellow and the Project Director of the African Women Journalism Project (AWJP) an initiative supported by the ICFJ. She is a veteran journalist and was the first woman bureau chief in East Africa and the first female news editor of the Nation Media Group in the region.

During this week, we will look at how to understand privacy online especially as a journalist, since you face the difficult task of needing to have an online presence while trying to protect your privacy online.

This module will cover:

  • What data is best kept private and why
  • Learning how to better protect your online privacy
  • How to speak with your colleagues and sources about online privacy

Module 3: Trolls and their strategies

Taught by Ela Stapley, former freelance journalist and digital security trainer working with the International Women’s Media Foundation on their online harassment initiative. Ela supports journalists around the world with their digital safety needs.

This module will examine the types of people who harass you online and those that support and, in some cases, pay them. We will also look at common troll strategies, and some techniques for documenting attacks.

This module will cover:

  • Types of trolls and who organises them
  • Strategies that trolls use
  • Techniques for recording and documenting abuse

Module 4: Digital security steps for online harassment

Module 4 is taught by Myra Abdallah. Myra is the head of media department at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality and the Arab region communications manager for Women in News program at WAN-IFRA, based in Beirut, Lebanon. She is specialized in gender and media, and trains on gender balance in media, countering sexual harassment and digital security.

During this week you will gain practical knowledge on how to counter online harassment and be safe online, through learning the different steps and tools of digital security. Myra will present the best practices for a safe online experience.

This module will cover:

  • Protecting your accounts online
  • Online privacy: safe browsing and communications
  • Online and offline reporting and support systems when experiencing online harassment


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