Leading female journalists have created a group to tackle sexual harassment in the media industry.
The Second Source, an alternative professional network, launched on Thursday night with the aim of raising awareness of harassment and helping companies to stamp it out.
It has the support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Green MP Caroline Lucas and the Lib Dems’ Jo Swinson.
It comes in the wake of allegations Times columnist Kate Maltby and radio presenter Julia Hartley Brewer faced sexual harassment from male MPs.
Evening Standard columnist Rosamund Urwin, who is among the 20 journalists behind Second Source, said she was inspired to take action after hearing how freelance reporter Emily Reynolds was targeted.
She said: “It was after reading a piece by my fellow journalist Emily Reynolds about sexual harassment she had suffered that I realised that unless we act, nothing will change.
“It will happen to the 23-year-olds of tomorrow, as it once happened to me and happened to Emily.”
Reynolds said: “When I published the post about my experiences of harassment, I was frightened it would leave me isolated and it risk.
“It was quite the opposite. I was inundated with messages of support and solidarity from other journalists, many of whom had had similar experiences to me as a young woman in insecure work.”
Deputy Lib Dem leader Swinson said: “I’m delighted to support the women journalists creating The Second Source to campaign for changes in the media industry.
“For all the justified media outrage about sexual harassment in other workplaces, the media must recognize it needs to act on its own harassment problem too.”
Lucas added: “No one should have to suffer harassment at work—it’s great to see women working together to change behaviour and attitudes in this male-dominated industry.”
Khan, meanwhile, said: “The harassment some women journalists have faced is appalling—and it is the responsibility of all of us to challenge it and call it out. This needs to be a turning point.”
“I strongly support the women journalists who have come together to create The Second Source. We must do everything we can to ensure women are able to speak out and have their concerns properly investigated.”
Louise Ridley, News Editor, Longform and Special Projects, at Buzzfeed UK is also backing the campaign.
She said: “Half of British women have been sexually harassed at work, according to a BBC Survey last month.
“This can’t go on. We’re excited to come together to do something to support journalists who have experienced harassment, and anyone in media who is concerned about it. We hope we’ll be joined by lots of others to use our talents to make a positive change.”
Megha Mohan, senior broadcast journalist, added, “As journalists we’re meant to hold people to account, yet there’s often an uncomfortable culture of silence when it comes to bullying and harassment in our profession.”
Urwin added: “This isn’t—as some have bizarrely framed it—a ‘witch hunt.’ What we want is cultural change in our industry—and we hope this call will spread beyond the media to other workplaces too.”
Reynolds agreed: “Sexual harassment and assault must be rooted out of every industry. We’re starting with ours.”