Articles by

Taylor Owen

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    Knight Foundation supports the Journalism After Snowden initiative to ensure access to information and promote journalistic excellence. Below, Jennifer Henrichsen, a research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, and Taylor Owen, research director, write about the program. Photo: Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll delivers a Journalism After Snowden lecture at Yale Law School in October.  Courtesy Tow Center for Digital Journalism.  A year ago the Tow Center for Digital Journalism began working on a project exploring the implications of increased state surveillance on the practice of journalism. Funded by The Tow Foundation and Knight Foundation, Journalism After Snowden explored some of the challenges faced by journalists in an age of mass state surveillance and big data.  Related LinkS "Columbia University’s Journalism After Snowden initiative expands with new funding" press release, 6/20/2014.  "Tow Center program defends journalism from the threat of mass surveillance" by Jennifer Henrichsen and Taylor Owen, 6/20/2014 The initiative formally concludes today at an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which will feature the launch and discussion of a survey of investigative journalists and their digital security practices in collaboration with Pew Research Center. We’re also hosting a conversation on surveillance and journalism with editors, academics and journalists, including New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll and Politico Editor Susan Glasser.
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    Knight Foundation supports Journalism After Snowden to ensure access to information and promote journalistic excellence. Below, Jennifer Henrichsen, a research fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, and Taylor Owen, research director, write about the expansion of the program. We’ve long known that it’s easy to kill the messenger. Journalists are murdered all around the world for speaking truth to power. But, it wasn’t until recently that we realized how mass surveillance is killing source confidentiality, and with it, the very essence of journalism. By taking away the ability to protect sources—the lifeblood of journalism—surveillance can silence journalists without prosecutions or violence. Understanding the implications of state surveillance for the practice of journalism is the focus of our project, Journalism After Snowden. We’re in an age of mass surveillance and it’s expanding. Metadata can reveal journalists’ sources without requiring officials to obtain a subpoena. Intelligence agencies can tap into undersea cables to capture encrypted traffic. Mobile devices, even when powered off, can be remotely accessed to record conversations. The extent of manipulation and penetration of the technology that journalists rely on to communicate with their sources makes it difficult—if not impossible—for journalists to truly protect them. And without reasonable assurances of protection, sources will invariably dry up, cutting off a supply of information about government wrongdoing which for more than a century has been a critical balance of power in democratic governance. And journalism without sources is not journalism at all; it’s public relations for the powerful.