Posted in Industry Insights

AP’s top editor: We must protect journalists online

, by Patrick Maks

During a panel at the virtual News Xchange conference on Tuesday, Executive Editor Julie Pace addressed the online harassment of journalists and AP’s response to this growing trend.

“I’ve been really proud over the last couple of months of conversations that we’ve been having at the AP. Online harassment is now something we have to take as seriously as we have long taken physical safety for our staff,” Pace said.

Pace continued:

We’ve been very good over the years at ensuring that when we’re sending journalists into conflict zones or other dangerous assignments that they’re well prepared for it. I think we’ve been less well prepared in terms of making sure that our staff has resources and training to deal with the attacks that they’re facing online. And those attacks increasingly are focused on women, on journalists of color, and they can cover any manner of topics. Sometimes we think about this – particularly in the U.S. – just around the political space, but really almost any topic we’ve seen can generate an enormous amount of hate and vitriol online.

Pace described the work done by a team of AP journalists to create a new response plan and training program at the news agency, saying she hopes AP can be a leader in helping other news organizations tackle this growing problem.

AP Executive Editor Julie Pace, right, speaks at the virtual News Xchange conference, Nov. 23, 2021. (AP Photo)

“We need to make sure that people know — your journalists know — that when they’re facing this kind of attack we will have their backs and that we will provide them with the same kind of support that we would for a journalist who’s going into a traditional conflict zone because that is that is the new world that we live in,” she said.

Pace, who is the third-consecutive woman to serve as AP executive editor, discussed the importance of gender representation in news leadership and newsroom diversity “in the broadest sense of the word” to connect with a wider audience.

“It’s ethnic diversity, it’s gender diversity, it’s age diversity, it’s diversity of experience. That’s really what we’re talking about here,” she said. “We want to be in a position where the conversations that we’re having internally in our newsrooms are reflective of the audiences that we’re aiming to reach.”

Pace also stressed the importance of expanding access to factual journalism:

We really pride ourselves on being a fact based news organization and we believe that is a great public service. News consumers right now have so many choices. And they can actively choose to engage with news that or with content that will bolster what they already believe, that will allow them to live in an environment where they’re not challenged, where they don’t have to have to pressure test their ideas. And that I think that is one of the great things that we can do as the media, we can put more facts in front of people, we can show different sides of an issue.

Pace was joined by Reuters Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni. The conversation was moderated by Sasha Vakulina, business editor at Euronews.