Since the numerous accusations against Harvey Weinstein started coming to light in early October, more and more women have come forward to talk about the sexual harassment they have experienced across various industries – and journalism and media has been no exception.
On 12 October, freelance journalist and author Emily Reynolds published a piece titled 'An incomplete list of all the men in the media who have wronged me', which prompted other women journalists to reach out to her to talk about sexual harassment and how this issue was being portrayed in the media.
"It began as a WhatsApp group and the conversation soon moved to a case of 'there's obviously a problem, what can we do about it?'" said Kirstie Brewer, a commissioning editor at the Guardian and co-founder of The Second Source.
"We decided to launch a proper group called The Second Source, which is really about looking for more of a cultural, long-term change, a sustainable shift in the way that women in the media are treated."
The Second Source was set up earlier this month in the UK by a group of women from various sectors of media, including broadcast, newspapers, magazines, as well as freelancers, to tackle harassment in the industry by providing resources and a network of support for women in journalism.
One of its core aims is to inform people of their rights, by first looking at the human resources and staff training policies of various media organisations to "get a picture of what the industry standard is at the moment, where there are holes and where we think it could be improved".
The group is also investigating the rights of journalists who work on a freelance or shift basis, who might find themselves in a more difficult position than full-time staff, and starting to build a bank of resources on The Second Source website, compiling information to help women find and access emotional and legal counselling.
Brewer said the members are also speaking to groups in other industries, such as female barristers or women in Westminster to see how they can work together to tackle harassment, a problem that exists in all fields.
"The main thing we found is that a lot of women feel very alone when [harassment] happens to them, and especially young women entering the industry.
"They don't have the network, they feel very overwhelmed and wonder if it's happened to other people, or how much they would be putting up with...
"The media industry is a very male-dominated workplace and the 'all-boys network' still exists, so we'd also like to create an alternative positive space for women to network and be linked up with commissioning editors and female peers that can help each other in that respect," Brewer said.
On 5 December, The Second Source will be hosting its first event in London, an informal evening of networking and talks from female speakers including Jane Merrick, journalist and co-editor of The Spoon; Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan; and Pavan Amara, journalist and founder of My Body Back Project.
"It'll be a chance for people to hear what we're doing and see who we are, and we really want to hear from them in terms of what we should be doing, where they think we could help – it's really just the beginning, so I feel like this is going to be a marathon rather than a sprint.
"I think initially a lot of women just want to be heard and for someone to be on their side and not come from a point of view that they need to prove something. So we're going to be listening and try to support them."
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