Journalism under fire from abuse and trolls
What with Donald Trump’s bombastic disparagement of journalists and British politicians’ do-little disregard of those who heckle and troll working journalists for their “awkward” questions, it cannot be long before vituperation begets violence. BBC chairman David Clementi nailed the problem at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge in highlighting the abuse suffered (particularly by women journalists such as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg and Emma Barnett) in reporters’ honest pursuit of news coverage in the current highly charged political atmosphere (BBC calls for politicians to stop attacks on reporters, 14 September). When danger is perceived in war zones, front-line war correspondents are afforded the embedded protection of friendly forces; where ugliness has threatened sports writers – either from management or supporters – editors have abandoned coverage until such behaviour is moderated.
The safety of political and other journalists is no less important than their duty and their right to ask, on behalf of the public, uncomfortable questions of politicians. When heckling is allowed to get out of hand on the hustings what trusted, neutral body can organise a boycott as a punishment? Ipso? Ofcom? The Society of Editors? David Banks (Daily Mirror editor, 1992-94), Crookham, Northumberland • In the same edition, you report the BBC’s call for politicians to stop attacking its reporters, the editor of the Evening Standard satirically wishing death on the prime minister and the BBC planning a drama series in which it “shreds” the print media. Perhaps if these people all got together in somebody’s club... W Stephen Gilbert Corsham, Wiltshire • Is George Osborne a newspaper editor or politician, asks Gaby Hinsliff (Opinion, 15 September). She seems to have forgotten he’s also making £650k a year working one day a week for BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager. Osborne continues too as unpaid chair of his thinktank, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. He’s clearly a man of many roles; which makes it even harder than Hinsliff says to guess his motivations. Dr Alex May Manchester • Laura Kuenssberg’s coverage of the political scene is consistently incisive, unbiased and courageous. It is also without bias. I am shocked to read that this fine reporter has received abuse from both left and right for doing her job. Les Farris South Petherton, Somerset