Broadcaster Jody Vance says she feels relief after suspect arrested following years of online harassment

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Jody Vance felt it was important to respond when, in 2015, a showrunner accused her of liberal Snow spreading false news about Donald Trump.

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The fill-in talk-radio host on Vancouver’s CKNW had made a point of respectfully responding to her audience throughout her broadcasting career—including her years at Sportsnet, where she was the first woman in Canadian history to open her prime-time Sports show was run. . But the man’s e-mails became more offensive. In 2016, he told her that their conversation had ended.

“That’s when ‘all caps’ e-mail came into play,” she said recently.

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Ms Vance agreed to speak with The Granthshala after her alleged harasser was arrested late last month, and has signed an undertaking with the Vancouver Police Department that she will begin the new year with a court date. Have previously agreed not to contact them.

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Because of her experience, Ms Vance said, she wants to spur public discussion, as journalists – especially those who are women or people of color – are being hit with a sharp wave of hate on politically polarized online platforms. Is.

Ms Vance said she expects other journalists to do what they initially didn’t: list each conversation and report them to their employers and local police. In her case, the criminal justice system is working, she said, but it takes a very long time to bring the complainants to justice.

“I kept it in my mind that it would make me high-maintenance somehow, and I have learned that it is not,” Ms Vance said.

He has been stalked and tortured in the past as well. Shortly after she arrived in Toronto in 2000, a man repeatedly mailed her typed letters to express his undying love for her. Another would write “his princess” in green ink and send her a four-leaf clover in a Ziploc bag. He said that his employer had informed the police about these things at that time.

The third incident completely shook his life. While she was sleeping, someone broke into her third-floor attic apartment, shoved her stuff around, and then left without stealing anything. That week, she walked into a skyscraper with 24-hour security guards.

When it came to e-mail harassment, Ms. Vance spent years trying to handle the problem on her own.

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More than once, he tried to block her address. Every time she did this, she would simply create a new account (often With a name that included a lewd reference to her) and sometimes with screengrabs of her social-media posts, continues to send a barrage of false and violent messages. The e-mails – which he often CCed to his bosses, coworkers and radio guests – parroted popular far-right conspiracy theories and included references to Nazi concentration camps.

Hoping that he would just go away, for two years he abandoned new correspondence to his familiar hate-filled cadence.

One day in 2018 she checked her spam box and saw hundreds of unread messages from the man that she understood the threat and went to their bosses at CKNW. They were sympathetic. He suggested that she call the police, and enlist her in a service that monitors social media for threats.

She finally reported the harassment to the VPD in late 2019, when a message startled her. It said, along with a photo of Jewish prisoners starving during World War II, that she and her child were “to be punished in a concentration camp”.

“Threatening my son was the catalyst,” Ms Vance said.

Ms Vance recently showed The Granthshala a revised copy of a criminal undertaking signed by the man accused of harassing her, promising to comply with five protective conditions, including Includes orders not to contact the employer and to refrain from mentioning it to anyone. public forum. The order said the person has to appear in court in mid-February to respond to the offenses of criminal harassment. The Granthshala is not naming him because he has yet to be formally charged by the Crown, which has until the new year to admit any charges recommended by the VPD.

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VPD spokesperson, Constable Tania Vicintin recently confirmed that the force has conducted an open and active investigation into the man.

Ms Vance is white and her harasser did not differentiate her race in her online abuse. But journalists of color are often targeted on the basis of race.

Climate change reporter, podcast host and vice president of The Canadian Association of Journalists, Fatima Syed, said she recently called the police after receiving a piece of hate mail. She was out for a walk by the lake with a friend last month when her phone rang three times – once to her different e-mail inboxes. Ms Syed said the message was so disgusting that it made her fingers tremble and her heart beat faster.

Ms. Syed rarely shares hate mail with the public, but she said she posted the recent message on Twitter solely to raise awareness, and the “very strange club of female racial journalists who were being targeted As an act of solidarity with. , and who feared for their safety.” Ms Syed said she personally knew 10 journalists who are now dealing with similar hate-filled e-mails.

Reporting such messages to the police, she said, “It is painstaking work that gives a lot of emotional burden to those dealing with online hate, but it is better than feeling helpless. And it’s better than being afraid. It’s better for me to keep looking at my phone or e-mail and thinking, ‘When’s the next one going to hit?’ “

Ms Syed said a “strange expectation” for this campaign of hate is that suddenly newsrooms and their managers can’t look away and are committed to finding better solutions for journalists, many of whom face such personal attacks. Thinking about quitting the media, Ms. Syed said.

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Chris Tenov, a postdoctoral research fellow who studies journalism and digital media at the University of BC, said journalists routinely face three types of harassment: unwanted attention from obsessive fans who are unwilling to make a connection, partisan or Politically motivated insults, and general toxicity jolt the social media platforms.

Earlier this month, in response to a September tweet by Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada in which she asked her followers to “play dirty” with three political journalists, a group of 19 Canadian media outlets, including The Granthshala signed a joint statement. to support All the journalists who are the target of hatred and harassment.

“We are united in supporting our journalists and newsrooms against those who try to silence their stories and put their safety at risk. Together, we will continue to advocate for industry-wide responses to end this behavior,” the statement said.

Even though the justice system has intervened to protect her, Ms Vance does not feel comfortable. “So how did it affect my life? It made me worry about my newly liberated son, every time he was at home or went out on his own. I worried about my loved ones,” she said.

Before arresting her alleged e-mail harasser, she said, she was able to reveal his identity with the help of an aide. According to the information he received, he has a female partner, school-age kids and a career – three things that surprised him.

“I try not to go too deep into the weeds on this one because the goal is to make it so he never does this to anyone else,” she said. “I feel that in doing so I will somehow protect his children, perhaps his wife, and perhaps his neighbours.”

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