The strategies and consequences for harassment : The effect on women journalists’ work in Costa Rica

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för medier och journalistik (MJ)

Abstract: Violence against women journalists is increasing all over the world, especially online, and previous research shows that journalists develop different strategies to avoid harassment. Costa Rica is the country in Latin America that has the highest level of press freedom but that does not mean that harassment is non-existing. However, there is little research to be found on how the work of women journalists in Costa Rica is affected by harassment and which strategies they use to avoid it. Through nine semi- structured qualitative interviews with women journalists in Costa Rica, this Minor Field Study examines how the work of women journalists in Costa Rica is affected by harassment, threats, digital attacks, and physical violence. The interviews reveal that harassment against female journalists in Costa Rica occur today, and during the journalists’ careers they have experienced online violence, physical violence, sexual harassment and pressure. The harassment comes from bosses, colleagues, sources, trolls, the audience, and the government. The journalists develop strategies like self- censorship, changing occupations and avoiding being alone with bosses and sources. Some also block people and comments on social media, confront the harasser or try to ignore the harassment. Harassment does also affect the journalists’ feelings in a negative way and many women state that the harassment affects their journalistic work. The reasons for why they think they are exposed are because they are women, the macho culture in Costa Rica, and because of the president. The topics and the news media outlet also have an impact. Most of the participants feel like harassment is worse today than what it has been, even though there are more laws today. The results are discussed in relation to the theories Gender in the newsroom, The chilling effect, Affective Events Theory and Intersectionality. To summarize, harassment against women journalists in Costa Rica do affect their daily journalistic work. 

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