Journalists in Finland lack confidence in efforts to investigate threats against them, according to the International Press Institute (IPI). The Vienna-based global press freedom organisation launched a new report on online abuse against journalists in Finland.

IPI conducted a fact-finding mission to Finland from June 4 to 8, as part of its Ontheline project, which aims to explore and share best practices implemented by newsrooms in Europe to tackle online harassment against their journalists. The project also includes visits to Spain, Poland, Germany, Sweden and the UK.

In visits to newsrooms of various sizes in Helsinki and Turku, IPI found a growing level of understanding and awareness among management, especially in those media outlets that have been deeply affected by cases of harassment.

Successful strategies carried out by Finnish newsrooms to prevent and protect journalists from these attacks will later be shared together with models from other European news outlets on a new web resource platform.

In Finland, as elsewhere, online harassment takes a professional and emotional toll on journalists. None of the journalists IPI interviewed said they had resorted to self-censorship, but most confirmed carefully measuring their words when writing about “hot” topics so as to avoid an avalanche of threats and insults on social media.

In extreme cases, journalists step away from covering certain topics for a short period of time. Worryingly, the chilling effect has extended beyond the frontiers of the newsrooms, with journalists reporting that even some interviewees are now reluctant to be quoted to the potential abuse.