Shooting the Messenger: a global survey on credibility attacks against reporters


An anti-lockdown protest in London, England on April 24, 2021. (Jessica Girvan / Alamy Stock Photo)

A global survey is under way as part of an investigation into the harassment and credibility attacks journalists face, the likely sources of those attacks, and their impacts.

The Global Reporting Centre, based at the University of British Columbia, is conducting the study — Shooting the Messenger: Credibility Attacks Against Journalists — in collaboration with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and with support from PEN Canada.

Chris Tenove, lead researcher on the project, told PEN Canada they are looking at “efforts to threaten, discredit, harass, and otherwise undermine journalists globally when they are trying to do their jobs. … For years, CPJ has been tracking murders, disappearances, and jailings of journalists. Those blunt tactics continue, but they are now complemented by information campaigns against journalists. These might include spreading false claims about journalists or news outlets, making anonymous threats, or exposing private information about journalists and their family members, and these tactics are often paired with surveillance. Prominent journalists targeted in this way include Rana Ayyub in India, Ronan Farrow in the U.S., and Maria Ressa in the Philippines.”

Working journalists over 18 years of age are encouraged to participate. The survey is available in English, French, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish. The responses will be kept confidential. Completing the survey should take about 20 minutes.

Participants will be asked whether and how often they have faced various types of harassment, its impact personally and professionally; and to assess anti-press sentiment in their country or region.

Researchers will analyze the survey responses and publish the results as academic articles and a public report by the Global Reporting Centre and CPJ.

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