The Erosion of Source Protection

Maintaining confidentiality in investigative journalism is becoming more and more difficult to sustain. Journalists who would once risk imprisonment in order to protect a sources identity are now “being undercut by surveillance”.

Most journalists of a high status worry that sources will fear approaching them with information as they are aware that the journalist is under surveillance. Umar Cheema, Co-founder of Pakistan’s Centre for Investigative Reporting says, “I am a prominent journalist, a distinction with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some [sources] tend to approach me out of respect and belief that I am the right person to be taken into confidence. Others hesitate, fearing any contact with me will put them on [the] radar screen since I am under surveillance, right from phone to emails, and [my] social media accounts are monitored.”

The free speech of journalists is under attack, and not just the journalists right to speak, but also the audience’s right to hear what the journalist has to say.
Journalist Justin Quill says, “…attacking journalists seeking disclosure of their sources is attacking your right to know.”

Journalists are becoming more restricted with the information they can release to the public. Most of the information released by journalists is usually received by sources wishing to remain anonymous. However, with an increase in surveillance on investigative journalists, source protection is being eroded, this  consequently limits what information the public consumes.

Over the years a number of reporters have been threatened with jail time, or even jailed, for failing to name their anonymous source.
In July 2005, The New York Times Judith Miller, was sentenced to serve 12 weeks in Alexandria Detention Centre in Virginia for civil contempt of court due to refusing to reveal the name of a confidential source. Before being taken into custody, Miller told Federal Judge Thomas Hogan, “If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality, then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press.”
Judge Hogan later stated that the journalistic tradition of accepting jail time rather than betraying sources, does not deserve respect. However, the Executive Editor of the times, Bill Keller, disagreed.

[Judith Miller speaking about her jail time for refusing to name a confidential source]

Courtney Radsch, Global Advocacy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, stated, “I think that we are really potentially looking at an environment where it becomes virtually impossible for journalists to protect their sources – where journalists are no longer even needed in that equation, given governments’ broad surveillance powers.”

Below is an article about Miller’s jail time, posted by the New York Times:

JRNL102 – What’s Hidden: Body Image

“I’ve had body image problems since I was younger. I’ve always struggled with the way I look.”.

Body image is an issue that has taken over a lot of adolescent boys and girls lives.
A lot of people suffering with body image problems, however, tend to hide the fact that they are struggling from those around them. Body image (the way someone recognises their body) is a result of low self-esteem, and can be affected by friends, family, and social media.

The teenage girl in this audio/video piece has experienced issues with body image since a young age and is now realising how much it is affecting her life – “Even shopping is proving to be a struggle. All shops only tend to have clothes for thin girls; and they don’t consider girls like me… I spend hours in a change room trying to fit into a pair of jeans that I can never fit into… I know I won’t be able to fit into them.”. She has struggled since primary school with body image problems, and they have since grown into much more. Her dislike of her body stems from the hatred she has about her weight; a hate so fierce that she struggles to leave the house in anything less than jeans and a baggy jumper – “It’s almost summer and I don’t even want to be seen outside in shorts and a tee-shirt… I don’t want to be seen in shorts, let alone a bikini at the beach.”. The girl’s mother says “I don’t like the way she thinks. She doesn’t see herself the way we all see her.”.
The girl’s opinions of herself and the way she looks has not only affected her own life, but her family members lives also. “She’s always been compared to her sister; and I think that’s where a lot of it [body image issues] stems from”, says the girl’s mother.

Filming the video for this piece proved to be a struggle as the interviewee felt uncomfortable with posing for the shots used. She felt uncomfortable with people being able to view all the skin she tries so desperately to hide; she says “It’s at the point where I’ll only wear shorts at home.”. Although she was strongly against the idea of having her body photographed, she agreed to go ahead and have the images taken in order to make others struggling with this same issue aware that they are not alone.


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