Welcome to the FPF membership program event archives. This is the place to check out panel discussions and webinars you may have missed, along with reviewing resources to stay current and informed on press freedom and digital security issues. As always, you can contact [email protected] for any questions and dedicated support.

The Intersections of Press Freedom and the Environment

A panel discussion from Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. May 2024

Environmental journalists are increasingly under attack, according to a new report by UNESCO released on World Press Freedom Day, in recognition of this year’s theme, “A press for the planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis.”

Disturbing statistics documented in the report show that over the past 50 years, 44 environmental journalists have been killed. In the past 15 years, hundreds have been attacked — often by state actors — while covering environmental issues around the world.

Unfortunately, environmental journalists in the U.S. aren’t immune from these and other threats to their newsgathering rights.

Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) and the Society of Environmental Journalists recently hosted a conversation about the obstacles U.S. journalists face when reporting on environmental issues.

FPF’s Deputy Editor Adam Glenn led a discussion with writer and photographer Carlos Berríos Polanco, reporter Halle Parker, and FPF’s Deputy Advocacy Director Caitlin Vogus about the barriers that stand in the way of reporting on the environment. Watch the whole thing, or read some highlights below.

Tracking press freedom violations against U.S. environmental journalists

Data can provide important context to the personal stories of environmental journalists on the front lines covering stories such as climate change or pipeline protests, Glenn explained.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented 36 press freedom violations related to journalists covering environmental stories since its founding in 2017. The largest category of violations is arrests and criminal charges, and nearly all are related to journalists covering protests. Other violations include searches and seizures of journalists’ equipment, assaults by law enforcement officers or private individuals, and legal orders like prior restraints.

Environmental journalists face a broad range of threats from physical assaults to subtle legal maneuvers, Glenn said, as exemplified by the stories of the two journalists featured in this conversation.

Sadly not uncommon for police to attack environmental journalists

Freelance journalist Berríos Polanco shared his experience of being assaulted by police while documenting a demonstration against the building of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center — known as “Cop City” — in the South River Forest on Nov. 13, 2023.

Police stopped activists as they were marching toward the construction site and began launching tear gas canisters. The first landed at the feet of a group of at least 30 journalists — including Berríos Polanco — who were standing ahead of the march. Berríos Polanco told the Tracker that he believed police purposefully targeted the group of journalists.

“I was pushed. I was tear-gassed,” Berríos Polanco said. “Sadly, not an uncommon thing that you experience as a reporter these days. And it's emblematic of the way that press are treated throughout the United States and the world.”

In the wake of the tear-gassing, officers repeatedly told journalists to stop recording and move away from the masses of protesters. When reporters attempted to return, officers threatened to arrest them, claiming that the area was an “active crime scene.”

That, too, Berríos Polanco believes, was a tactic police used to intentionally cut off journalists’ access. “Environmental journalists are usually stopped by either state or nonstate actors who have a vested investment in whatever environmental journalists are covering. And they often don't allow them to do their jobs because they want to obscure what's going on,” Berríos Polanco explained.

Intimidation tactics make environmental reporters look over their shoulders

Parker spoke about another insidious tactic used against environmental journalism: the abuse of legal processes to harass reporters.

In 2022, Parker was reporting on an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency into “Cancer Alley,” a heavily polluted area along the Mississippi River primarily inhabited by Black communities. Parker contacted the EPA for information and conducted interviews with agency officials.

It all seemed like a very normal interaction between a reporter and a federal agency. But in January of this year, Parker learned of an unusual public records request made by the state of Louisiana to the EPA, seeking communications between the EPA and several journalists, including Parker. The state filed the FOIA request because it believed the EPA had illegally leaked information to reporters.

Parker’s first reaction was to scoff at the request. But as time went on, she became more concerned. “It makes you start trying to think and retrace all the steps that you took,” she said, adding, ”That can start to get a little intimidating.”

Legal harassment like this can make journalists think twice about reporting, Parker explained. “There are many such actions, and they're not as visible,” Parker added. “And yet they do keep reporters from doing their work or cause them to look over their shoulders in ways that are chilling.”

Speak out and fight back

According to Vogus, Berríos Polanco’s and Parker’s stories are disturbing but unfortunately not surprising, as attacks on press freedoms become increasingly common in the U.S.

Even as attacks on the press grow, Vogus said, “We can't become numb to them and we can't just come to accept them. We have to speak out against them and we have to fight back.”

Protests are a particularly dangerous place for journalists, including environmental reporters. Vogus urged environmental journalists to familiarize themselves with both their legal rights and practical tips for staying safe while covering demonstrations, including securing their data and devices.

She also condemned the use of FOIA to try to bully and intimidate journalists, as in Parker’s case. Louisiana is “trying to use FOIA to dig up what they see as ‘dirt’ about reporters, when it's really just reporters doing their jobs and doing nothing wrong,” Vogus said.

Finally, Vogus emphasized the importance of safeguarding environmental journalists’ sources, many of whom may face threats from governments or powerful corporations. The PRESS Act, a bipartisan federal reporter-source shield bill, would help all journalists protect their confidential sources and encourage whistleblowers to come forward.

Prepared, Not Scared: Digital Security for the Election Season

A remote webinar on specific concepts, tools, and best practices in digital security, with a focus on journalists covering a tumultuous election season. April 2024

Senior Digital Security Trainer Davis Erin Anderson and Principal Researcher Dr. Martin Shelton lead this session, which will provide the starting point for you to know how to establish a strong digital security posture as you make your way through 2024. It will cover case-specific topics in digital security that can help keep journalists safe while conducting election coverage, including: 

  • Device protection
  • Safeguarding communications
  • Mitigating for harassment
  • Preparing for a post-election future

The previous election cycles have been tumultuous for journalists, including cases of equipment damage, belligerent political candidates, and arrests. As this 2024 cycle ramps up, our experts will prepare you with the tools and knowledge to protect yourself for a range of difficult scenarios, both online and on the ground.

For more information on FPF's training program, visit https://freedom.press/training/

Data-Driven Coverage of Press Freedom

A virtual training on using the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker for your reporting and a discussion of why covering press freedom issues matters for journalists and their readers. — February 2024

Hear from student journalist and FPF editorial intern Emma Flannery about her experience grappling with press freedom issues at the University of Missouri and from Caitlin Vogus, FPF’s deputy director of advocacy, about why readers care about press freedom and how writing about it can make a difference.

Then, learn from Stephanie Sugars, senior reporter for FPF’s U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, about her work covering press freedom violations, the unique challenges faced by student journalists, and how to use the Tracker’s data in your reporting.

This event is in honor of Student Press Freedom Day, but all journalists—students or not—are welcome!

Jailing Journalists: The Assange case and the threat to press freedom

A panel discussion with press freedom experts, with opening remarks from U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) — February 2024

Whether you love or hate Julian Assange, the United States’ prosecution of the Wikileaks publisher under the Espionage Act for printing government secrets in 2010 poses an extreme risk to press freedom. This week, the U.K. High Court is hearing what could be Assange's final appeal before he's extradited to the U.S., and the threat to journalists is high.

Tell the Biden administration to drop the Assange case now

We were honored to have U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., deliver an opening statement before a panel discussion on this important topic. McGovern issued a bipartisan, bicameral call for the U.S. to drop charges against Assange in November.

Watch our panel tackle the ramifications of what this prosecution means for the First Amendment and investigative journalism. Speakers included:

  • Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Carrie DeCell, senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute
  • Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation
  • Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Be sure to like and share this Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) video urging the Biden administration to drop this dangerous prosecution.

Watch the Video

Take action to protect press freedom. Tell the Biden administration to drop the Assange case now:

  • Write to the White House using its contact form.
  • Call the White House main comment line: 202-456-1111, between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET, Tuesday-Thursday.
  • Write to the Department of Justice (DOJ) using its contact form.
  • Call the DOJ main comment line: 202-353-1555 and press 1.

Behind the Headlines: Victims of Newsroom Raids in Marion and Tampa Tell Their Stories

An interview with Eric Meyer of the Marion County Record, and independent journalist Tim Burke — December 2023

A police raid of the Marion County Record in Kansas made national headlines in August 2023. But many may not know that the FBI raided the home newsroom of another journalist in Florida in May. Are journalists being raided just for doing their jobs?

Seth Stern, FPF’s director of advocacy, welcomes Marion County Record editor and owner Eric Meyer and independent journalist Tim Burke as they update us on each of these troubling incidents, and discuss what’s next in the fight to defend and foster a courageous press.

Dangerzone: Handling Files Safely

An examination of Dangerzone, an application used to safely open files — October 2023

Micah Lee, The Intercept’s director of information security and Dangerzone creator, joins FPF's Francisco Rocha to explore why Dangerzone was created, how the open source application works, and future goals and updates for the program.

The webinar included a robust Q&A, and one of the questions on the details for a security audit of the application went unanswered during the webinar (at 20:46). To follow up, here is the reasoning behind the decision:

“The [Dangerzone] audit is done via the Open Technology Fund's Red Team Lab. OTF works with a set of vetted third-party auditors who are assigned to projects based on fit and availability. We also factored in our previous successful engagement with IncludeSecurity on the first-ever SecureDrop Workstation audit back in 2018.”

Dangerzone is a free and open source project and is built on contributions from the community. There are many ways to contribute:

  • Start using Dangerzone. You can find the code for the Mac, Windows, Linux graphical app, and the Docker container here
  • Help FPF develop Dangerzone. Check the issues on GitHub and open one if your issue doesn’t exist. Please start discussions and make pull requests if you’d like to get involved.
  • Donate to support the team maintaining Dangerzone. We’ve been able to retain expert developers to take over Micah’s work, and your contributions help them build out and update Dangerzone.

SecureDrop 101

Exploring the whistleblowing platform used by journalists around the world - October 2023.

Nathan Dyer, FPF’s newsroom support engineer, leads this informative webinar to explore why SecureDrop was created, how the open source whistleblowing platform works, and goals for the project used by investigative journalists around the world.

SecureDrop is a free and open source project and is built on contributions from the community. There are many ways to contribute:

Digital Security Education for Journalism Schools

A discussion on FPF's Journalism School Curriculum with guest Professor Paromita Pain - June 2023

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Principal Researcher Martin Shelton is joined by University of Nevada, Reno, Professor Paromita Pain to explore the ideas and design behind the coursework and resources being taught in cutting-edge journalism schools. Pain addresses student responses to cybersecurity education, the curriculum modules, questions and concerns, and coursework feedback.

Feel free to read through the Journalism School Curriculum that Shelton has developed and see how you can build a lesson for your community. These sample slides from our Digital Security 101 training can be tailored to your needs, and Pain is quick to note they are appropriate (and necessary!) not just for collegiate journalists, but high school students as well.

Subscribe to the newsletter to learn more and stay up to date on digital security education. If you have any questions about the content from the discussion, email the team at [email protected].

Behind the Headlines: Journalism on trial in North Carolina

Panel discussion with Asheville Blade journalists Matilda Bliss and Veronica Coit and Editor David Forbes, led by FPF’s Director of Advocacy Seth Stern - May 2023

Read more on reporters Bliss and Coit — from their original arrests on Dec. 25, 2021, through the hearing delays and 2023 bench trial, our U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents every step of the timeline:

From petitioning for the release of police body camera footage and leading a coalition of more than 45 advocacy and media outlets to publishing opinion pieces in strategic outlets, our ongoing advocacy efforts have played an important role in bringing the national spotlight to the charges against the journalists:

Examining the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker 30-minute webinar - March 2023

This compelling discussion was led by Managing Editor Kirstin McCudden and Senior Reporter Stephanie Sugars. Explore with them the nearly 2,000 press freedom violations in the data-based website, and how its new, more intuitive redesign can highlight trends on the state of press freedom and democracy. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a project of FPF, is the go-to source for:

  • Up-to-date and searchable data on press freedom aggressions in the U.S.
  • Original reporting on arrests and assaults of journalists.
  • In-depth original analysis on the evolving state of press freedom.

Digital Security 101

Digital Security 101 webinar led by Olivia Martin, deputy director of Digital Security - February 2023

This 90-minute webinar will introduce foundational topics on digital security, including the basics of risk assessment, account security, and secure communication. The additional tips and tools discussed during the event can be found below:

- All of our account security resources can be found here

- All of our secure communication resources can be found here

- Lastly, web browser security was acknowledged but not addressed due to time. You can check out our resources on that issue here

If you attended the training or are catching up on it in the archive, please take a few minutes to complete our exit survey. Your responses will be reviewed by our in-house education expert to help improve our work.

10 Years Defending Press Freedom w/ Rainey Reitman and Trevor Timm

Fireside chat on Freedom of the Press Foundation - December 2022

Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founders Rainey Reitman and Trevor Timm host a conversation on the organization's origins, early campaigns, and current projects. Below are a few relevant links that are mentioned in the conversation:

- Freedom of the Press Foundation founded in December 2012.

- Read about how we crowd-sourced stenographers for Chelsea Manning’s trial

- SecureDrop launches in October 2013. (https://securedrop.org/)

- U.S. Press Freedom Tracker launches in August 2017. (https://pressfreedomtracker.us/)

- Stay up to date with our current advocacy and projects here - https://freedom.press/news/

Defense Against the Doxx Arts

Online harassment mitigation and anti-doxxing strategies - October 2022

For journalists, online harassment comes from persistent individuals and collective trolls who send hate-filled messages to them, their family and colleagues. Sometimes these threats escalate to the physical world, e.g. when a reporter’s personal information — like their home address — is made public.

Join Digital Security Trainer David Huerta as he reviews resources, strategies, and tools to help mitigate online harassment, minimize your digital footprint, and keep your personal information as scarce as possible.

Optional: To prepare for this webinar, we suggest reviewing these relevant links:

Digital Security Training of Trainers

Becoming a Champion of Digital Security - August 2022

Building off the foundational concepts in our Digital Security 101 training, this 90-minute webinar prepares viewers to champion digital security in their own communities. You may be the most technologically-savvy person in your family, an outspoken advocate for better security at your workplace, or always informing your friends of the latest hacker news — this training will discuss ways to take that expertise and passion to the next level.

This session provides a deeper dive into threat modeling using personas and case studies to understand different actors and motivations. It also examines the five concepts every trainer must know:

  • Encryption works
  • Credentials/account security
  • Social media privacy
  • Mobile basics of app permissions and full disk encryption
  • Understanding cloud concerns

See the full description in the youtube link for a comprehensive follow-up which includes questions to answer, dynamics to consider, and tons of links and resources.

Digital Security 101 Training

This 90-minute training held in June 2022 provides the starting point for you to know how to investigate your digital security questions as needed. It will introduce foundational topics on digital security, including the basics of: - threat modeling - online account protections - device safety with full-disk encryption and password practices - safer browsing - communication security Click here to view the module

This training mentioned several links, tools, and services that can help harden your privacy and information online. Below find a helpful list that Martin provided for follow-up:

Daniel Ellsberg speaks with Trevor Timm on World Press Freedom Day

On May 3, 2022 - World Press Freedom Day - Daniel Ellsberg spoke with Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) on leaks, government secrecy, and press freedom. In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) draft opinion leak, Ellsberg discusses the possible reactions of the state and ramifications for power with this historic event. The hour-long conversation with FPF’s Trevor Timm discusses the Pentagon Papers, Julian Assange, U.S. nuclear policy, Edward Snowden, and the long history of government secret-keeping and lying.