Online harassment? Here’s what’ll help

“Lisa Wilson was just looking for some good news to write about when she posted an inquiry to a local Facebook ask-and-answer group.

“You always hear people saying, ‘Why don’t you ever write any good news?’ and that’s what I was trying to do,” said Wilson, a reporter with The Island Packet in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and The Beaufort Gazette in Beaufort, South Carolina.

But what she got were angry comments from readers frustrated with the local paper’s recent implementation of a paywall on their website.”

Every journalist has a story like that.

Now, my former colleague and friend Andrea Martin is published on Poynter today with a piece about dealing with hostile online comments. Andrea, who surveyed local newspaper journalists as part of her master’s thesis at UNC-Chapel Hill, pulled together three good recommendations for newspaper managers. I wish I had known them when I was an editor. Here’s why:

“Local newspaper journalists who participated in the study said they are beginning to feel indifferent about their roles, are already stretched thin, and are frustrated by a lack of support and guidance on how to handle online incivility. They avoid reporting on certain stories or ask to switch beats, and in some cases leave the industry entirely.”