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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Digital Journalism

For a Special Issue on
Mob censorship and digital violence against the press in global perspective

Abstract deadline
15 October 2021

Manuscript deadline
01 February 2022

Cover image - Digital Journalism

Special Issue Editor(s)

Silvio Waisbord, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
[email protected]

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Mob censorship and digital violence against the press in global perspective

Online violence against journalists is a global phenomenon. Recent studies have documented patterns suggesting that specific groups of journalists defined by gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality, and religion, are likely targets of digital harassment, doxing and other forms of violence. Violence is perpetrated by ordinary citizens, states, and para-state actors. This special issue focuses on mob censorship in digital spaces against journalists and the press. Mob censorship is understood as violence exercised by ordinary citizens against journalists with the intention to intimidate and silence the press.

The study of mob censorship sheds light into the patterns, the causes, and the effects of violence against journalism and the right of expression of citizens in the digital society. As expression has become more abundant through digital platforms, so has violence against journalists and other actors with visible, prominent positions in the public sphere.

The aim of the special issue is to contribute novel empirical findings and theoretical and conceptual innovations in the study of digital violence against the press, as well as to provide recommendations for addressing the problem. We invite theoretical and empirical contributions from around the world that address questions in the areas of mob censorship, digital hate and journalism, anti-press violence, freedom of expression, and journalistic safety. Studies grounded in various theoretical frameworks and that use different research designs and methodologies are welcome. Comparative, cross-national perspectives might be particularly useful to comprehend causes and manifestations of mob censorship in different political regimes and information contexts.

Papers may address the following questions: What motivates citizens to harass the press through digital platforms? How do elites as well as political and social institutions foster mob censorship? What is the responsibility of states, news companies and digital corporations? How is mob censorship linked to phenomena such as digital hate, trolling, (dis)trust in the press and journalism, systemic violence, online activism, and political polarization? How do journalists in various countries react online harassment? How do journalists cope with attacks as well as traumatic consequences? What are effective mechanisms for protecting journalists, and for reducing and preventing attacks?

Contributions are expected to examine various aspects of mob censorship. Possible topics include:

  • journalists who are likely targets and victims
  • the identity and motivations of perpetrators and instigators
  • how digital mobs operate and what drives their actions
  • the consequences of mob censorship and digital violence on news coverage, diversity, and news quality
  • online violence directed at fact-checkers
  • the role of political and media elites in inciting mob censorship
  • the responsibilities of news organizations, digital platforms and corporations, and governments in preventing and responding to attacks
  • the impact of online attacks on journalists’ practices and well-being, the public’s right to know, and democratic communication
  • the linkages between mob censorship and historical and political contexts of violence against the press in countries and communities
  • the impact of actions to curb mob censorship and strengthen the safety of journalists

Submission Instructions

Proposals should include an abstract of 500 words (not including references) as well as a full list of author(s) with affiliation(s) and abbreviated bio(s). Please upload your proposal as one file (PDF) with your names clearly stated on the first page. Submit your proposal to Professor Silvio Waisbord, [email protected] by October 15, 2021.

Full manuscripts should be submitted by February 1, 2022 via the Digital Journalism online system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/digitaljournalism following the standard journal submission procedures. Authors should note in their cover letters that the submission is for the special issue devoted to “Mob censorship in global perspective: New insights on digital violence against journalists.” Final publication will be in Fall 2022.

Any questions concerning this call for papers may be directed to Professor Silvio Waisbord, [email protected].

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article