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Hiding behind a screen name

['Melissa Jenkins']
['Melissa Jenkins']

I don’t get offended easily. I have developed a thick skin over the past several years from the (mostly male-dominated) industries I’ve worked in.

But having a thick skin and not getting easily offended doesn’t exempt journalists from harsh criticism and attacks. It happens more often than you might think.
Earlier this month, Teresa Wright, a TC Media political reporter out of P.E.I., had an anonymous voicemail left for her by a woman condemning her cleavage-showing clothing and bright red lipstick. She referred to it as inappropriate.
It’s one thing to tear a reporter down for treatment of a story, misinformation or a badly written article (yes those things do happen, although we try to avoid them), it’s a whole different thing to go after one’s appearance.
Taking criticism in stride is an important thing for journalists, and Teresa used the opportunity to write an opinion piece on her experience, promoting women supporting women instead of tearing them down.
I’ve been in Teresa’s shoes. Many women in this, and many other industries, have. I now consider it a right of passage. If someone is picking on my appearance, there must not be anything else to tear me down about.
But if you’re going to attack me, please show me enough respect to put your name behind it. That is an ever-growing issue in our industry. Anonymous trolls have bombarded the Internet with hateful regurgitation and politically incorrect responses that are intended to stir the pot.
Last week, the Telegram announced it would no longer allow anonymous, trolling comments on its website in the future. It follows other media outlets that are doing the same. Its intention is to avoid the unsubstantiated comments from people looking to get people riled up.
Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, allow fake and parody accounts to get set up, opening up many people to anonymous attacks.
It’s easy to become a troll. Just make up someone, go online and start commenting on whatever can cause the most controversy.
That is cowardly.
Anyone can hide behind a false name and the anonymity of a computer screen. It takes guts and strength to stand up for what you believe in by putting your own name and face behind it.
If I have learned anything from the past few weeks, it’s that there will always be trolls, cowards, parody accounts and many others that act like a certain American presidential candidate behind closed doors, but would cower away in fear at the mere mention of going public.
In this industry, we are public faces. People recognize us when we attend events, cover meetings and even go to the bank or for groceries. We’re loved, we’re hated and we’re respected. It gives our words a certain amount of credibility, whether they are written or spoken.
A troll may get his or her pathetic giggles and sadistic jollies out of someone else’s misery, but they are just another face in the crowd in public with nothing constructive to give.
So just like the Telegram’s website, anonymous trolling will not be approved in my life. But if you’re willing to put your name behind it, I will be ready to face the criticism, head on.

But having a thick skin and not getting easily offended doesn’t exempt journalists from harsh criticism and attacks. It happens more often than you might think.
Earlier this month, Teresa Wright, a TC Media political reporter out of P.E.I., had an anonymous voicemail left for her by a woman condemning her cleavage-showing clothing and bright red lipstick. She referred to it as inappropriate.
It’s one thing to tear a reporter down for treatment of a story, misinformation or a badly written article (yes those things do happen, although we try to avoid them), it’s a whole different thing to go after one’s appearance.
Taking criticism in stride is an important thing for journalists, and Teresa used the opportunity to write an opinion piece on her experience, promoting women supporting women instead of tearing them down.
I’ve been in Teresa’s shoes. Many women in this, and many other industries, have. I now consider it a right of passage. If someone is picking on my appearance, there must not be anything else to tear me down about.
But if you’re going to attack me, please show me enough respect to put your name behind it. That is an ever-growing issue in our industry. Anonymous trolls have bombarded the Internet with hateful regurgitation and politically incorrect responses that are intended to stir the pot.
Last week, the Telegram announced it would no longer allow anonymous, trolling comments on its website in the future. It follows other media outlets that are doing the same. Its intention is to avoid the unsubstantiated comments from people looking to get people riled up.
Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, allow fake and parody accounts to get set up, opening up many people to anonymous attacks.
It’s easy to become a troll. Just make up someone, go online and start commenting on whatever can cause the most controversy.
That is cowardly.
Anyone can hide behind a false name and the anonymity of a computer screen. It takes guts and strength to stand up for what you believe in by putting your own name and face behind it.
If I have learned anything from the past few weeks, it’s that there will always be trolls, cowards, parody accounts and many others that act like a certain American presidential candidate behind closed doors, but would cower away in fear at the mere mention of going public.
In this industry, we are public faces. People recognize us when we attend events, cover meetings and even go to the bank or for groceries. We’re loved, we’re hated and we’re respected. It gives our words a certain amount of credibility, whether they are written or spoken.
A troll may get his or her pathetic giggles and sadistic jollies out of someone else’s misery, but they are just another face in the crowd in public with nothing constructive to give.
So just like the Telegram’s website, anonymous trolling will not be approved in my life. But if you’re willing to put your name behind it, I will be ready to face the criticism, head on.

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