One of the most vexing, and even dangerous, issues facing journalists these days is harassment, both online and in real life. Among the best-known examples is New Hampshire Public Radio, whose reporter Lauren Chooljian, along with her editor, Dan Barrick, and her parents were the targets of vandalism to their homes, apparently in retaliation for Chooljian’s reporting. Four New Hampshire men have been indicted by federal authorities and face long prison terms and heavy fines if they are convicted.
Harassment has been emerging as an issue in journalism education as well. I’ve been trying to find ways of dealing with it in my undergraduate and graduate ethics classes. A year ago, I devoted just part of one 100-minute class to the subject. Now I set aside a week — two full classes.
Because I know other journalism instructors are dealing with this, I thought I’d lay out how we handled it in my class just recently. This is ever-evolving, of course, so please consider this one instructor’s attempt to wrestle with a difficult issue.