Every day, it is the job of a journalist to expose the truth. But, is ironic how while their jobs are to expose the truth, they are also expected to keep secrets. In Emily Bells’s Journalism After Snowden, she elaborates on the journalist’s need to protect the secrets of his or her sources. Along with this debacle comes the added responsibility of balancing that confidentiality with the expression of the First Amendment right to free speech. As a citizen, you shouldn’t feel any threat of legal action against you for speaking out, but as a journalist, you face the pain of revealing an innocent person’s identity.
Journalists go to extreme measures to protect their sources. In doing so, they are placing these sort of “auto filters” on their expressions of the free speech granted to them in the First Amendment.
- They use strong passwords. The last thing a journalist wants is someone gaining access to confidential information on phones, computers, emails, or hard drives.
- They carry files on encrypted USB disk. Journalists keep confidential information under lock and key to keep hackers out. They even encrypt their messages with encryption algorithms to prevent prohibited access.
- They cover their computer cameras.
- They have privacy screens on their devices. his makes it difficult for people other than themselves to see their screens as they are working.
Of course, it is completely absurd that people have to go to these levels of measures just to keep innocent people from the eyes of the lurking government. How can a journalist express these truths when it is so difficult for them to gather information? It’s almost like the government’s set us up for failure. It is also crucial to acknowledge that presence of fear keeping journalists and citizens alike from expressing their rights to free speech.
It’s interesting that these journalists are having to adopt computer science knowledge to their discipline to be able to truly do their job. I won’t be surprised if soon enough, college curriculum adds cyber security courses to journalism majors because of the immense usefulness of it in protecting their sources.