Journalists struggle to keep online threats from escalating

Journalists struggle to keep online threats from escalating

[Ed. – The times in which we live]

After a Florida radio station’s general manager told hosts they didn’t have to put an obnoxious repeat caller on the air a couple of months ago, the man stood on the sidewalk outside and vented his irritation with the station through a bullhorn.

Craig Kopp, manager of WMNF-FM in Tampa, said the guy left for a while but reappeared — the day after a shooting left five Maryland newspaper employees dead.

Now Kopp’s stomach is twisted in knots wondering how to handle the situation.

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“I walk this fine line all the time between the most precious of things, the First Amendment, and health and safety,” said Kopp, a broadcast veteran in charge of 70 volunteers who host music, news and heated political talk shows on the listener-supported station.

The difficulties journalists face when dealing with threatening behavior from members of the public came into stark relief in Thursday’s deadly attack at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

Suspect Jarrod Ramos, 38, has a well-documented history of harassing the paper’s staff. He filed a defamation suit against the paper in 2012 that was thrown out as groundless and often railed against them in profanity-laced tweets.

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