12 Feb 2018

Austrian journalists face intimidation campaigns

Members of Austria's far-right Freedom Party are spearheading online bullying campaigns against journalists who criticize them.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austrian journalists face intimidation campaigns - NewsMavens
Silenced protesters. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

A Facebook post featuring Colette Schmidt, journalist for Der Standard, was posted with the following comment:

"This is Colette. Colette writes for Der Standard and likes to criticize the Freedom Party. If anyone has something to say to her, here is her email address."

Hanna Herbst, editor in chief of Vice Austria, was called "pretty Hate-Hanna" and "cute feminist and insulted blonde" in an article from a Freedom Party platform that was shared on Facebook by Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache.

The behavior of the Freedom Party has crossed the line. Personal attacks and slander on social media threaten independent journalism. These acts are toxic, especially considering how often they refer to journalists' physical appearance.

media, politics

Details from the story:

  • In the last weeks, several online hate campaigns against journalists were launched by members of Austria's freedom party. 
  • Rubina Möhring, President of Reporters Without Borders Austria, called the gestures "beyond critical, vicious". 
  • She added: "Now women are under fire because they can easily be put down, because there are so many machos with old-fashioned role models in this society."
  • Intimidation attempts against journalists are increasing internationally. President Trump called journalists "enemies of the American people."  Repressive measures against journalists are also particularly present in Turkey and Russia.
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