Chapter seven in Journalism After Snowden is entitled “Digital Security for Journalists.” Written by Julia Angwin, this chapter addresses the best ways for journalists to protect themselves, their sources, and their stories. I found this chapter to be extremely useful and interesting. On the first page, Angwin addresses the strange concept of journalists keeping secrets. As journalists are supposed to keep the public informed and are praised for transparency it’s odd that they would keep secrets. But Angwin states, “paradoxically, journalists often need secrecy to increase transparency.” She goes on to explain that because journalists require anonymous sources for certain stories there would be no story without some level of secrecy.
The chapter continues, addressing the importance of privacy and digital security. While reading this section, I began to get an idea of what being a journalist is like. I’ve known for a while that if I were to become a journalist I would deal with important sources and that keeping things secure is important. But to read about what security measures Angwin recommends, makes it all the more realistic. Using burner phones and encrypting messages using apps like Signal, using high-tech software and performing threat assessments are really what are at the core of journalism these days. As a young person who is not a typical, computer-savvy millennial, the idea of having to implement this kind of communication is headache-inducing. It had me wishing for simpler times when it took thirty-five years to find out the identity of “deep throat.”
But now we are in the time of technological advancement. So we do not have much of a choice but to tackle new digital security. That being said, it is extremely important for journalists to cover their tracks. To protect sources and to potentially receive new sources, the ability to maneuver on this digital platform is integral to the job description. I found the scenario part of this chapter to solidify my thoughts on this matter.
With each scenario presented to the reader (myself in this circumstance), I grew more and more paranoid; however, I would not say being slightly paranoid is such a bad thing-especially if you are in a foreign country or reporting on something as big as the Snowden leak. A certain level of fear might actually give you the upper hand.
Reading this chapter also gave me an idea of what reporters in volatile or war-torn foreign countries must be feeling like on a daily basis. To live with a constant state of fear that your source will be made known, or that a story you’ve been working on for possibly months, or years could be crushed in a matter of moments is hard to wrap your head around. I have a great deal more respect for foreign correspondents after this reading. I also have a better grasp of what personal security I need to update and how I will apply the methods in this chapter to my possible journalism future.
Yes- It’s a terrifying thing to confront what this kinds of surveillance means in the day to day life of journalists. It brings it home in a different way.