Is The Government Spying On Media? Journalists Sure Think So

If you conduct research to write on hot topics, and post your work for others to read, then stock up on the aluminum foil. And start wrapping it ‘round your head after you read about this recent Pew Research study. An overwhelming majority of investigative journalists believe the federal government is spying on them, Pew revealed on Feb. 5.

In a December survey of members of the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization, Pew Research learned:

  • 62 percent of all journalists believe the federal government collects information from their emails and phone calls,
  • 71 percent of investigative reporters believe they’re subject to that spying, and
  • 80 percent think that just working in this field puts them at risk of such clandestine oversight from the feds.

Almost half of survey respondents say they recently changed the way they store particular information they acquire, and 29 percent of reporters say they changed their methods of communication with other journalists. They don’t trust the Internet in general, either; 71 percent believe their data can’t be protected from digital threats.

(Image from Pew Research Center)

(Image from Pew Research Center)

And it’s not just the Internet that’s a risk, reporters say; its service providers add icing to the “what First Amendment rights?” cake. Ninety percent say their ISP would fork over data to the National Security Agency, and even without subpoena. (Not that the NSA would even bother getting a subpoena; shoot, its employees admittedly spy on their spouses and girlfriends, and even share nudies on the NSA server).

At least reporters are getting used to it. They can’t do their jobs as well as they’d like to (one-third says it’s harder to get sources to cough up information in this Digital Age), but only two percent say these growing risks make them want to leave the field of journalism for another line of work.

The margin of error in its “Investigative Journalists and Digital Security” study is +/- 3.8 percent, Pew says.

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