Protecting Sources & Subjects in a (Newly) Hostile Environment

October 19, 2017
10:30 am  -  11:45 am
National Union Building

In the United States, the White House has labeled the press an “enemy of the people,” and incited physical violence against reporters. It has turned the full force of the Justice Department against whistleblowers, and pledged to “open up the libel laws” to fight unflattering coverage. While the Obama Administration may have laid the groundwork by increasing prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists, as some contend, the Trump Administration has upped the ante: There is talk of new government powers to place reporters under indefinite surveillance and of harnessing the Espionage Act—which carries a potential life sentence—to pursue reporters who publish classified information. In Syria, the threat is physical, fatal in fast-changing ways, and leaves no room for error. In Mexico, investigative storytellers fall victim to drug cartels and government forces alike—with the only protection coming from other reporters and the public. Filmmakers, whose projects typically take years between inception and completion, can be especially vulnerable to sudden shifts in threats, to themselves and to their subjects.


How can journalists and filmmakers work safely amid a sudden and dramatic heightening of the risk of telling a story? How can they better protect their subjects and whistleblowers, who are often on the frontlines of these heightened attacks? Given the challenges, is a new paradigm needed for the relationship between investigative storytellers and sources?

Session Category :  2017