Reach Appoints Dr Rebecca Whittington As Industry’s First Online Safety Editor

Reach has announced the appointment of Dr Rebecca Whittington in its newly created online safety editor role, a first in the industry. 

Dr Whittington started out as an online and video journalist and editor for regional newspapers, eventually working as the head of news for Yorkshire Post Newspapers, before moving over to academia at Leeds Trinity University. 

Her PhD thesis explored the impacts of digital tools on news production and journalistic identity at local newspapers in the UK, and she is currently a lecturer and course leader for Leeds Trinity University’s journalism department. 

In the new role, Dr Whittington will work with all colleagues at Reach to support through online abuse incidents, while also leading efforts to prevent further abuse. She will take up the role from 15 November. 

Dr Whittington said: “Online abuse is an endemic issue which has increased significantly over the past decade. Journalists are vilified online on a daily basis simply for doing their jobs, with types of abuse ranging from personal attacks to hate crimes.

“Not only does this cause harm to the victims of abuse, but it also causes harm to the audience witnessing it. It is time these issues were addressed and by leading the way and creating the position of Online Safety Editor, Reach is taking an important step in doing just that.

“In my role I aim to support staff facing online abuse and harassment and I also want to address the issue externally, by working with platforms and audiences to prevent and protect.”

Reach Group editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley said: “I’m so pleased to welcome Rebecca to the team and take the next step in making the internet a safer place for journalists across the industry. 

“As Reach continues to grow and recruit more young journalists than ever before, it is absolutely essential that we lead the way to create a safer online environment for our people and our readers.”