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Biden admin gives $5 million to fund 'trauma-informed' care program for journalists 'experiencing online harassment'

  The Biden administration has approved a   $5.7 million grant   that will be used to create a "trauma-informed" care program for ...

 The Biden administration has approved a $5.7 million grant that will be used to create a "trauma-informed" care program for journalists "experiencing online harassment," the Daily Caller News Foundation reported Monday.

The grant will be awarded by the National Science Foundation to George Washington University's Expert Voices Together program. 

The NSF first provided the university with $749,222 for the project in 2021. The university will receive another $5 million in taxpayer dollars to fund the ongoing program through its projected end date in 2024.

According to the program's description, it aims to address "links between two significant problems impacting trust in contemporary communication systems," including the "broad and rapid spread of misinformation" and "abuse and harassment directed at members of expert communities." The program defines "expert communities" as journalists, scientists, and public health officials.

"Misinformation-driven harassment campaigns have particularly large impacts on those at the forefront of efforts to accurately inform the public," the program claimed. It asserted that online "harassment" has undermined confidence and chilled experts' speech. 

The university plans to use taxpayer funds to develop the EVT platform, described as a "socio-technical system that provides real-time support to experts experiencing online harassment." The early stages of the program will provide support to journalists "in moments of crisis." 

The program will consult scientists, technical specialists, psychologists, civil society, and media representatives to build the program that provides "trauma-informed care" to those "facing online abuse and harassment."

"The system will comprise a secure, rapid-response technical platform, support from trained case managers, and an intervention [toolkit]," it continued. "Tailored to meet the specific needs of each user, the EVT toolkit will offer a menu of options, including: (1) personalized assistance with digital safety and security, (2) support monitoring and reporting abuse, and (3) help identifying and building a community care system."

"Grounded in best practices from trauma-informed care, the community care system in particular is designed to bring together peers, friends, family, colleagues, and mental health care specialists who can provide support for the expert facing online abuse, while also helping to build long-term resilience within social networks, institutions, and society as a whole," it added.

The initial program abstract from 2021 stated that it aimed to place a "particular emphasis on empowering bystanders to act in their aid," referring to expert communities harassed online. The latest description of the program does not mention this focus, the DCNF found.

The outlet reported that the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, already assisted in launching a pilot program offering small and medium-sized U.S.-based media outlets $5,000 to test the platform.

The program's head researcher and the Poynter Institute did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF, while the NSF declined to comment on the program.

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