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Help is Here

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Help for those facing harassment right now

You are not alone. Online harassment is not part of the job. No one should face abuse for doing their job. Friends, family and colleagues can provide great support, and they want to help. Sometimes, too, you also need to talk to someone anonymously. The choice is yours


Harassment is on the increase, and often involves sexism or threats of sexual assault. Most goes unreported. This site is here to help journalists facing harassment.


What to do if you have been harassed:

  • You are not alone. The entire journalism community stands with you. 

  • If you want to talk to someone anonymously. Your confidentially is guaranteed.

  • More help is available:

  • For tips on documenting the incident, click here

  • For tips on preventing future harassment, click here


What you do, or don’t do, is up to you. We are here to help.



Unifor members

  • Talk to your shop steward, bargaining unit chair or local president. Your choice. Talk to the person you are most comfortable talking to.

  • If your newsroom has a protocol for addressing online harassment, please refer to it and follow its steps for taking action. This protocol is there to help you. Your union can help guide you through it. 

    • You are in control. The protocol and your union are there to help you access the supports you need or want. 

  • With or without a formal protocol for online harassment, your union will be there to help you. 

    • Approach any union representative you like, whether a steward, bargaining unit chair, local president or member of your women’s or Black, Indigenous, People of Colour committee. 

      • They will make sure you have the help you deserve and talk to the right people. 

      • Bring a friend for support, if you like.

  • If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, it can provide anonymous help, including access to a therapist. Neither your employer nor your union will ever know that you contacted the EAP, or why.

  • If your Unifor Local or Bargaining Unit has a Women’s Committee or Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Committee, you can contact them. Contact information should be on your Local’s website.



Non-Unifor members

  • If your newsroom has a protocol for addressing online harassment, please refer to it and follow its steps for taking action. This protocol is there to help you. 

  • If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, it can provide anonymous help, including access to a therapist. Your employer will never know that you contacted the EAP, or why.

  • If your workplace has a Women’s Committee or Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Committee, you can contact them. 



  • You are not alone. Reach out to a friend or colleague.

  • Get in touch with the Canadian Freelance Union. Through the CFU, freelancers can access support services and advice about how to handle online hate. Email with the subject line: Online Harassment - help! You do not need to be a member of the CFU to seek their help or advice. To learn more about the organization, please visit

  • Consult the Global Cyber Alliance toolkit, which provides information and tools to protect your sources and reputations, particularly for freelancers and small newsrooms.

  • Stress while working alone. Freelancers do not have newsrooms resources to draw upon. Journalist Stuart Hughes and Prof. Anthony Feinstein offered tips and discussed the challenges faced by freelancers during the 2020 Global Media Freedom Conference. 

STEP ONE: Documenting an Incident


Taking action can sometimes help. That is your choice. Here are some tips for what you can do. Please follow any and all of these tips that you are comfortable with:


  • If you can, take screen shots, or ask a friend to do this for you.

  • Consider having a trusted colleague take over your social media accounts so you don’t have see the harassing messages. This person can document the harassment for you.

  • Save all the offensive materials received, including phone calls, voice and text messages and letters.

  • Step-by-step guide. The Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma has a practical guide for what to do when facing harassment or abuse.

  • Tell your union. 

    • shop steward and/or Bargaining Unit Chair and/or Local President

    • If your union has a committee that deals with harassment, talk to them. They will know what to do next.

  • Tell your editor

    • Your union can do this for you. It’s your choice

  • Working with your union and editor, tell police. 

    • Again, the choice is yours. When it comes to safety and protection, we acknowledge that not all journalists are comfortable with police involvement, particularly those who come from racialized or marginalized communities.

  • Visit the Canadian Press Freedom Project and submit an incident or online threat. Your submission can be kept confidential

unifor members
non members

STEP TWO: Document/gather information

  • ​Don’t delete any harassing or threatening messages. They are evidence!

  • Thoroughly document everything, including any of your responses, before blocking the attacker. Save, print and screenshot everything. Print hardcopies and save to a folder that’s easy to access.

  • If the harassment is in email form, try to locate the IP address if possible and ensure that’s documented. Use this guide: Do NOT forward the email to anyone, as you may lose the originating IP address. If you need to share it, copy and paste the contents or send screenshots instead.

  • For Unifor reps and Local officers: Ensure the member starts a log of harassment activity, including the following:

    • ​Date and time.

    • Type of electronic communication (direct message, posted image, social media comment, etc.)

    • Location (name of the website or app.)

    • Nature of the online incident (a threat of sexual violence, a racially-motivated attack, etc.)

  • If the attacker’s identify is known, assess who they are and whether they can access the reporter either in person or online. Attempt to shut them out if possible.

  • Write down as much as possible about the source of the threat, identify if known etc.



Prevention and Mental Health


The primary responsibility for protecting journalists from online harassment and harm lies with the employer, working with your union and representatives of your newsroom, but you need not wait to ensure you have all the protections you deserve.


The need is just too great. An Ipsos poll released in November 2021 found that 73% of journalists polled reported that harassment has increased over the last two years.


Below are some resources you can access to shield yourself from as much of the abuse as possible.  A special shout out to the Canadian Association of Journalists, who compiled resources journalists can draw upon immediately and over the long term.


Protecting your personal information:

  • A step-by-step guide to finding and removing your personal information from the internet, by the New York Times. How to Dox Yourself on the Internet 

  • Field Manual from Pen America offers concrete strategies for how to defend yourself and others

  • For those working at home, whether freelance or due to COVID-19, some tips on securing your home office from the Committee to Protect Journalists

  • Know your trolls. The International Women’s Media Foundation developed a course to help journalists contextualize and deal with online abuse. Read the course materials here.

  • Students. The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation developed safety strategies for journalism students and those new to the profession, available here. 

  • Freelancers and small newsrooms. The Global Cyber Alliance toolkit provides journalists with information and tools to protect their sources and reputations. Particularly for freelancers and small newsrooms.

  • Device specific. The Citizen’s Lab at the University of Toronto has a number of resources, including a guide to protecting your identity on your devices.


Mental Health:

  • Stress and Trauma. Tips on preventing and addressing the stress and trauma of reporting the news. An overview of research and studies, from The Journalist’s Resource.

  • Freelancers. Journalist Stuart Hughes and Prof. Anthony Feinstein discussed the challenges around mental health faced by freelancers during the 2020 Global Media Freedom Conference.  Their presentation offers tips for bolstering emotional wellbeing while covering difficult stories, traumatic events, civil unrest and conflict.


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