The chairman of the BBC has called on politicians to defend journalists from booing at events and abuse online after Jeremy Corbyn supporters targeted Laura Kuenssberg and others during the General Election campaign.
Sir David Clementisaid female journalists especially were suffering “increasingly explicit and aggressive” abuse on Twitter and Facebook amid an “assault” on truth and accuracy from new outlets.
He said: “I have become increasingly aware of the abuse that some of them – particularly female journalists – are subject to, on an almost daily basis.”
Sir David also highlighted booing and aggression at real world political events.
He said: “It also occurs in plain sight, at press conferences and political gatherings on all sides.
“Politicians cannot stand by and watch – they must confront any abuse, and make it clear that it is intolerable.
“The journalists of the BBC, when abused simply for doing their job, should know they have the determined support of the Board to stamp it out.”
Ms Kuenssberg, BBC political editor, has been singled out by Jeremy Corbyn supporters for misogynist online abuse and booing at events over claims she is biased against the Labour left. During the election there were fears for her safety and she was assigned protection staff.
The experienced Wesminster journalist also faced an online petition last year calling for her to be sacked. It was eventually shut down by 38 Degrees, the campaign group hosting the petition, after executives said it had been “hijacked, and used as a focal point for sexist and hateful abuse” of Ms Kuenssberg.
Sir David told the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge: “It is the responsibility of our journalists to ask the question – even if it is direct, awkward or unwelcome.”
At one event in during the election campaign in May, Mr Corbyn attempted to call off his supporters after they targeted a Channel 5 reporter with boos.
The Labour leader said: “Journalism and journalists are intrinsic to a democracy and a free society.”
There have also been incidents of booing and intimidation of journalists at Ukip events.
Sir David said the trend was partly a result of some people living in online “echo chambers” where they rarely hear opposing views.
He said: “Truth and accuracy are under assault like never before. False claims travel the globe in an instant. And new media channels can speak, unchallenged, to closed groups of audiences
“In an environment in which it is becoming all too easy to choose services that only provide news which reinforces our own opinions, part of the BBC’s job is to work even harder to promote understanding of alternative points of view.
“And it is no surprise that alternative or contrary views expressed on the BBC may well grate to a larger extent than they once did.
“Questions about Government policies, which seem to some parts of our audience natural questions to ask, are regarded by others as impertinent and disrespectful.”
Sir David said he was “following closely” attempts by Twitter and Facebook to clamp down on online abuse MPs are also increasingly targeted, which is under investigation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
“I hope the social media platforms do even more,” Sir David said.