At Freedom of the Press Foundation, one way we support news organizations is through digital security education for reporters. We believe that, just as newsrooms are developing digital security competencies in real-time, student journalists should develop these skills as well. That’s why we’re thrilled to share the U.S. Journalism School Digital Security Curriculum, a resource to assist J-school instructors in bringing digital security know-how to their program.
From our research with J-school students and instructors, we know that journalism professors are always juggling competing priorities in their coursework. They are under pressure to teach a variety of skills that are in flux. Students are learning programming skills, and mastery over various forms of digital media that vary from year to year. We found most accredited U.S. J-school programs— roughly three-in-four — provide no digital security education of any kind, despite its outsized importance.
Just as we are asking students to work with digital tools online, we believe digital security is part of doing this work more safely and sustainably. With help from dozens of J-school instructors and security experts, we are excited to share that our digital security team has created a semester-long curriculum, complete with slides, lesson plans, and more. With attribution instructors may use and adapt the materials to their own needs, for free. We hope this digital security curriculum will help programs get started developing their own.
Some rare programs, such as the University of Nevada, Reno, and University of Southern California Annenberg School offer dedicated courses on digital security. But we also know most U.S. J-schools do not have in-house expertise for instructing on digital security, and where it exists, it typically takes the form of short workshops and ad hoc training. Workshops are a good starting point, but we think we can help programs go further.
To help programs scale their digital security offerings, we wanted to provide a resource that would help instructors build out their own curriculum. Because most programs are juggling so many competing priorities, we also understand that full courses may be impractical for some programs.
To help J-schools introduce smaller-scale but in-depth lessons, we took a modular approach to creating our digital security curriculum, breaking the curriculum into several sections. The modules examine foundational security topics such as threat modeling, how the internet and telecommunications work, chat safety, to authentication practices, malware, file safety, and more. We also created a broad “Digital security 101” for those who want to start with a beginner-friendly digital security workshop. Each module provides plans on how to conduct the lesson, suggested discussion questions, and even slides. Instructors can reach out to our team at freedom.press/contact for help.
Want to get started? Check out the U.S. Journalism School Digital Security Curriculum.