Digital Security for Journalists

When we first started work on Portland News Review, we never anticipated our first article would focus on keeping journalists and their sources safe in the United States. But times have changed and we can’t think of a more relevant or pressing debut topic.

As we write this in June 2019, we face an unprecedented threat to a free press posed by the fascistic regime in Washington DC in the form of threats, bullying, exclusion and efforts to discredit the press as a whole, as well as individual journalists and outlets. This at a time when the global climate for journalists is already fraught with a historically high level of repression and danger. To track journalist safety and incidents, check out these resources: The Guardian, UNESCO, and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

There are a great many resources on digital security for journalists, with more emerging all the time. More and more news outlets are prominently featuring guidance on how sources can get information to them safely and securely (e.g. The InterceptWashington Post, Reuters, NYT). There are digital security watchdog organizations, journalism advocacy organizations and others who are providing excellent guidance, as well.

Rather than try to create yet another resource, we feel it will be more valuable to provide professional journalists, citizen journalists, journalism students and would-be sources with a starting place to discover and stay in tune with the best resources we’ve found on this topic. Bookmark us and visit occasionally to keep abreast of the latest guidance on this ever evolving topic.

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We wanted to start with some context in the form of a report from the Pew Research Center entitled Investigative Journalists and Digital Security: Perceptions of Vulnerability and Changes in Behavior (2015). The report finds that “about two-thirds of investigative journalists surveyed (64%) believe that the U.S. government has probably collected data about their phone calls, emails or online communications, and eight-in-ten believe that being a journalist increases the likelihood that their data will be collected.

And now, on to the resources.

Access Now Digital Security Helpline
Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline works with individuals and organizations around the world to keep them safe online. If you’re at risk, we can help you improve your digital security practices to keep out of harm’s way. If you’re already under attack, we provide rapid-response emergency assistance.

DW Akademie: Digital Security Resources
Links to online digital security tools, guides, training curriculums and research for media development organizations wanting to protect journalists and activists.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation
FPF has a wealth of great information on their site. Here’s a sampling:

The Intercept

ProPublica

Global Investigative Journalism Network

Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy

The Tin Hat

Committee to Protect Journalists

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Rory Peck Trust