This past Sunday, the CAJ’s board of directors met virtually for our quarterly board meeting. As always, there was much to discuss: planning for our 2022 national conference in Montreal, readying next year’s awards program, preparing for the rollout of our soon-to-be-released diversity survey, and plans for launching the next round of our mentorship program that opens Oct. 25.
One of the major items on our agenda, however, was to develop an action-plan to address our concerns about the increase in online hate and harassment being sent to journalists across the country. After a rigorous discussion, we have identified concrete actions the association can take in the short, medium, and long terms.
In the coming days, we are working on consulting with lawyers to better understand the legal landscape with regards to hateful messages shared via private communications. We are working to establish communication with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other law enforcement agencies to understand how they plan to address the dissemination of threatening messages. We are also reaching out to international press freedom groups to identify resources that can be easily deployed to assist Canadian journalists during these fraught times. These will be shared in a special newsletter that will go out to members next week.
In the coming weeks, the CAJ will be working with Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, and others, to organize a virtual, industry-wide, summit on how to combat hate against journalists. We are in the early stages of planning but will share more details with members as soon as they are available.
We recognize that this issue will not be solved easily or overnight. Nevertheless, we will continue to work steadfastly to ensure that law and policymakers understand how these ongoing threats impede a free press.
The mental health and wellbeing of our members is of paramount concern. As always, if you feel unsafe, we are always here to support you in any way we can. If you have thoughts you’d like to share on how to contribute to our action plan, please reach out via email or Slack.
The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing more than 1000 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.
For more information, please contact:
President, Canadian Association of Journalists