Journalist Impact Survey 2023

Journalist Impact Survey 2023

We’re pleased to publish key insights from our 7th Journalist Impact Survey. The report shares findings and observations on the effectiveness and long-term impact of our legal and financial help, as well as the threats and trends affecting the journalists we support around the world.


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“I dread thinking about it.  I did not have money to pay for legal fees and might not be a journalist today, if not for Media Defence. Honestly, I would have left journalism.”

– Journalist supported by Media Defence in 2022.

The Survey 

Our Journalist Impact Survey provides an important opportunity to seek feedback from journalists that we have supported during the year. From evaluating the quality of assistance to understanding the success of cases supported, the feedback of the journalists and media outlets is crucial to our work. The survey also allows us to test our theory of change: access to legal defence enables journalists to continue reporting and holding governments and authorities to account.

The findings from the survey will guide our efforts to enhance our support systems and ensuring the continued ability of journalists to report freely.


In 2023, we received 25 responses from journalists whose cases – ending in 2023 – we have supported. The journalists come from all of the regions in which we work, and we are pleased with the representation of our geographic reach, which has increased as our team has grown. We are also pleased with the strong feedback about our communications and quality of our legal support.

Key findings on threats facing journalists: 

84% of respondents believed that they would face some form of legal action in the future as a result of their journalistic activity.

Civil and criminal defamation remain the biggest legal threat, increasing in prevalence by 8% and 16% respectively.

Physical security and online harassment were the key issues highlighted. These included threats of sexual assault; smear campaigns; trolling; and intimidation, including of family members.

Key findings about our support:

76% of respondents reported feeling satisfied or extremely satisfied with the outcome of their case;

100% of respondents would recommend our support to other journalists facing legal action; and

100% of respondents reported feeling satisfied or extremely satisfied with the lawyer who handled their case.

The survey found that our support and that of our partners was incredibly effective.
For 100% of respondents, this support enabled them to continue reporting on public interest issues.

If you face legal threats because of your journalism, we can help.