Most investigative reporters think the US government spies on them: survey
A majority of US-based investigative journalists believe the government is monitoring their phone calls, emails or other online communications, a survey showed Thursday.
The survey of 671 journalists by the Pew Research Center found 64 percent feel they are under US government surveillance.
An even larger percentage — 71 percent — among those who follow national security, foreign affairs or the federal government said they suspected they are being watched.
The survey by Pew along with the Columbia University Tow Center for Digital Journalism polled members of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a nonprofit organization that includes reporters, producers and editors, from December 3-28.
The news comes amid concerns that the US government is targeting reporters in a crackdown on national security leaks, and revelations that the FBI impersonated an Associated Press journalist as part of a bomb threat investigation.
In the Pew survey, half of the journalists said their employer is not doing enough to protect them and their sources from surveillance and hacking.
More than half said they received no formal training or instruction on electronic security issues.
Fourteen percent of those surveyed said their concerns have kept them from pursuing a story or reaching out to a particular source in the past 12 months, or have led them to consider leaving investigative journalism.
But 49 percent said they have at least somewhat changed the way they store or share sensitive documents, and 29 percent said they have taken extra security precautions in communications with other reporters, editors or producers.
“Overall, these data paint a complex picture in which investigative journalists on the whole feel vulnerable to surveillance and hacking, but not to the degree that most are changing their journalistic practices dramatically or investing energy into figuring out how to do so,” Pew researchers wrote.
“And nearly all of those surveyed (97 percent) say that for today’s journalists, the benefits of digital communication like email and cellphones outweigh the risks.”
The margin of error for the survey was estimated at 3.8 percentage points.