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The Backstory: A media freedom podcast

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The war online: abuse and harassment, and what journalists are doing about it (The Backstory S2E3)

Journalists are increasingly the target of insults or threats from individuals or groups online, which can have physical impacts and should no longer be seen as separate from the offline world. The goal of the harassment? Censorship. And women bear the brunt of the abuse, which is usually gendered and sexualised. Journalists have developed ways to deal with online harassment, from shutting down social media accounts, to confronting abusers, to advocating for change on a systemic level. In...


Talking about trauma: Valuing mental health as much as physical safety (The Backstory S2E2)

Many journalists see and even experience some kind of trauma, whether they're covering a conflict zone, protests or violent crime, and they can experience anxiety, depression or even PTSD. One of the best ways of coping is to talk about the experiences and the feelings they evoke, but few people do - journalists or their editors. Trauma is considered part of the job; but ignoring it only makes it worse. In this episode we look at moral injury, the kind of trauma journalists can experience,...


Managing safety: What editors can do to keep journalists safe (The Backstory S2E1)

If journalism protects democracy, then who is protecting journalists? The important role editors and managers play in keeping their reporters safe. In this episode, we hear from editors and safety trainers about starting the safety conversation in newsrooms, to make safety a priority rather than an afterthought. Learn about actual situations that journalists and editors have found themselves facing, and get tips on how to start putting in place safety protocols in your own newsroom. In this...


Soft censorship, hard impact: How governments manipulate media (The Backstory S1E6)

It is increasingly rare to find instances of direct censorship of media in the world today. But indirect censorship, called soft censorship, is thriving. It manifests itself through government pressure on media groups through advertising decisions and restrictive legislation. Less violent than kidnapping and murdering journalists, it is as existential a threat to journalism. In this episode: - Adrián López Ortiz, CEO of Noroeste (, media group in northwestern...


Fact or fake? Navigating the age of misinformation & fake news (The Backstory S1E5)

Journalists and news organisations today are seeing a shift in the use of social media, from engagement to propaganda and the spreading of misinformation, or so-called fake news. Facebook and other tech platforms are increasingly under pressure to change how they present information and sort truth from lies. But journalists themselves are also coming up with solutions. This episode looks at their fight to control the narrative of a given story. It’s a fight against propagandists, whether...


It's personal: female journalists facing harassment, and what to do about it (The Backstory S1E4)

Journalism can be a dangerous job and for female journalists, there is the added layer of sexual violence. Even when they are not working on stories that put them in physical danger, they face harassment and threats online. This episode looks at the specific threats that female journalists face -- in the field, online and in the workplace -- and what they, and the profession, can do about it. WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Director, Andrew Heslop, and the production team, speak with: - Stella Paul,...


Social media and journalism: The good, the bad and the ugly (The Backstory S1E3)

Social media has opened new channels for journalists to connect with their audiences, but with mixed results. With the rise of trolling, online harassment and the manipulation of social media, how do journalists and editors see the role of social media today? How are journalists adapting? How can they move forward in these seemingly chaotic times? WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Director, Andrew Heslop, speaks with: - Karabo Rajuili, advocacy coordinator for the AmaBhungane center for Investigative...


Show me the money: Censorship + financial independence (The Backstory S1E2)

How do you run an independent media organisation in a country where the government imposes censorship rules? How do you support a successful media company without folding to pressure from your funders or your sponsors? The internet has exploded traditional media funding models. And yet, in some parts of the world, legacy media - even print! - remain a strong source of independent information. How are these companies surviving? In this episode of The Backstory, WAN-IFRA Press Freedom...


Dying to be a journalist (The Backstory S1E1)

We start with the basics: the threats facing journalists worldwide. Too often, journalists put safety aside to “get” the story; editors don’t anticipate the problems that their reporters or their newsrooms can face. How can journalists be prepared? What should editors think about? To explore the issue, WAN-IFRA Media Freedom Director Andrew Heslop speaks with: - Javier Garza, a journalist in Mexico and a global journalist security trainer - Elisabet Cantenys, Executive Director of the ACOS...