Karachi: The Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) conducted an interactive online workshop on internal newsroom dynamics in collaboration with Deutsche Welle on September 11, 2020. The title of the workshop was The Elephant in the Newsroom: a conversation about bullying and toxic newsroom cultures. The session was moderated by senior journalist Shahzeb Jillani, who is working at DW’s Digital newsroom in Bonn. He has worked in many roles in Pakistani newsrooms, both print and television and as a multimedia journalist for radio and digital in Beirut, Washington, London. He was joined by clinical psychologist Mahnoor Shaikh, who has worked at the CEJ Wellbeing Centre with journalist clients, and is currently based in Canada. Ten participants joined from across Pakistan via Zoom. Three of them were asked to start the discussion by sharing their experiences. Jillani and Shaikh then used their stories to talk about identifying problems and solutions.Shaikh defined bullying in the newsroom by asking the journalists to remember three words: unwarranted, undeserved and uninvited. When someone repeatedly insults or humiliates you, this is called bullying. She added that there is a difference between bullying and constructive criticism. An editor can criticize your work but as long as it is constructive, it is not bullying. Repetitive unwarranted criticism has the effect of damaging a newsroom worker’s self-esteem. This opens the door to physical and mental stress over time. If a newsroom staffer’s performance is not up to par, and is repeatedly attracting criticism, the answer is training to improve their skill-set, she added. Shaikh suggested media organizations consider providing a mechanism through their HR departments so employees can make safe disclosures when conflict arises. “Few people are resilient when someone threatens and bullies them,” she said. Some people even take it as a challenge to bear. She urged newsroom workers to break the cycle when they take up managerial positions. “Bullies are actually cowards and have low self-esteem; they wear masks and ridicule others to redeem themselves.”Jillani said that newsroom workers must document any abuse they believe they are facing. “Do not wait till the things get out of control,” he said. “You can raise or take up issues informally as well. Sometime even bullies don’t recognise their behaviour affects their team.” However, half of the time, he added, this is a pattern of behaviour. He recommended making the effort to address a person by their name when bringing up bullying. And both Jillani and Shaikh said it was essential to find a way to speak up. Staying silent comes at too high a price. “When someone is bullying you, use the ‘I’ statement,” Shaikh said. Put yourself first and use their names so they realize that you are a human being and an individual entity who can speak their mind.This was the fourth workshop by the CEJ-IBA’s Wellbeing Centre, which has entered its third year of providing free counselling to media workers with clinical psychologists. Over 100 journalists from across Pakistan have used the service and continue to.