Anu Kantola & Anu A. Harju
Tackling the emotional toll together: How journalists address harassment with connective practices
In this article, we examine how journalists address and tackle online harassment by connective practices that involve joint action with peers and editors that we find are particularly effective in addressing the emotional effects of harassment. Theoretically, we bridge community of practice research with theories of emotional labour to develop a novel perspective to examine online harassment. Drawing on 22 interviews with Finnish journalists, we find three categories of connective practices that are particularly effective in tackling harassment: (1) supportive connection between the journalist and the editor; (2) shared collegial practices among peers in the newsrooms and (3) emotional engagement among peers outside the newsroom. All three categories illustrate how journalists as a community of practice develop new practices through dynamic processes innovation, improvisation, trial and error, reciprocal learning and mutual engagement. Importantly, emotional labour forms an important dimension of these practices as the journalists jointly address and tackle the emotional effects of harassment. We posit that the effectiveness of these connective practices largely stems from their ability to provide emotional support. While addressing feelings of fear, anger and shame, these shared practices also help consolidate the newly acquired knowledge and the professional identity under attack. Finally, we offer recommendations for newsrooms and journalists on how to collectively counter harassment and develop policies to address it.