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Note that you will not use this module if you are not conducting an extended course on this topic.

This (optional) conversation may be used to introduce the broader course. It will begin by examining the importance of the topic, additional prompting about what topics are covered, and will include an exercise intended to get students to reflect on what they hope to get out of this course. Our intention is to determine what subsequent topics will be most useful to this group.



Estimated time

30-40 minutes


  • Upon successful completion of this module, students will have a basic understanding of the need for digital security practices in contemporary U.S. journalism.
  • Students will be able to identify competitive advantages of journalistic security practices, namely stronger assurances of operational security know-how, as well as promises of relative confidentiality.
  • Students will understand which topics will be covered over the duration of the course.

Why this matters

This conversation will help students begin critically contemplating how digital security basics will be used in their work, and how they already live with, and respond to surveillance and security practices today.


Sample slides

Introduction: What is digital security, and why does it matter? (Google Slides)


  • Have students navigate to to see if their online accounts have been implicated in publicly known large-scale hacks.
  • Ask everyone to take a minute to write down two or three things they want to get out of the course. Call on the class to share one thing with the group.

Questions for discussion

  • What does 'digital security' mean to you? In what ways do you already engage with digital security?
  • Why would a communication professional, notably journalists, need knowledge about digital security?

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