Journalists are working under a climate of threats and intimidation. Allison Morris of the Irish News had to be escorted from court by security guards. She received serious abuse from a gang of protesters when she was called a "Fenian bastard" and a "Fenian cunt". The demonstrators also threatened to cut her throat. The Guardian reported here. The National Union of Journalists reported here. NUJ president Barry McCall said:
"The media must be free to report on the courts without fear of violence or intimidation. Any attempt to undermine that right is an attempt to undermine the principles which underpin the judicial system."On St Patrick’s Day 2014 a freelance photographer was assaulted on leaving a function at Belfast City Hall hosted by the Lord Mayor. They gang told him they knew which gym he went to and accused him of working for Sinn Féin, of being a dissident and subjected him to sectarian abuse. In June 2013 the PSNI informed a journalist that dissident republicans had issued a death threat against them.
The intimidation isn't also as overt. Writing on the media blog INFORRM, Olivia O'Kane said:
"The media in Northern Ireland are increasingly receiving legal threats, claiming that an individual’s life is in danger, or that they will be exposed to serious harm if the newspaper does not stop reporting about them. The legal threat can impose substantial legal costs on the media before any litigation commences to enable lawyers to explore the merits of the threats being made."
Olivia O'Kane said in the Belfast Telegraph:
"The media in Northern Ireland are increasingly telling me that, following news coverage of stories with high public-interest value, they are receiving legal threats, claiming that an individual’s life is in danger, or that they will be exposed to serious harm if the newspaper does not stop reporting about them. The media call these “gagging orders”."Mick Fealty has said that journalists have been told to hold back in the name of the peace process, our blog here. Ed Moloney has said that censorship extended the Troubles by up to a decade, our blog here. We've said many times that journalists regularly suffer a "blizzard", "confetti", "volume" and "bombardment" of vexatious libel writs.