Thursday, April 28, 2016

How fear is changing journalism

As a result of the files leaked by Snowden digital mass surveillance is having an effect on journalism. Fundamental freedoms, under government policies on preventing leaks and secrecy, are being threatened. This undermines traditional values and is creating an effect on how the media is allowed to cover such high-profile cases. For example when the Guardian obtained files leaked by Snowden they were forced, under threat of action by the UK government, to destroy hard drives containing the files. Another example is when Glenn Greenwald’s former partner at the Guardian, David Miranda, was held at a London airport for nine hours under the UK Terrorism Act. This was solely based on Greenwald’s association with the Snowden case. These are prime examples that have caused a distinct fear for journalists.

This fear comes from the uncertainty of being able to protect their digital communications with sources as well. A red flag according to, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Erich Schmitt, is when sources protect their digital communication can actually attract more attention to their communications. If this fear is instilled into sources then it is less likely that information will reach the public. The same fear can be instilled into journalists who fear breaking the law by accessing information through sources that practice civil disobedience.

Journalism as a result of the Snowden leaks has created a greater emphasis for free press. In order to maintain a free society the press must remain free as well. With this in mind stories need to matter and be more than just one story written with facts. Those facts need to be questioned and researched further and followed up on. Journalists have to have a willingness to make their stories matter and be heard.


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