Confidential sources have become more reluctant to leak information to journalists, writes Paul Lashmar of University of Sussex. Lashmar interviewed 12 experienced investigative reporters from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It has become more risky and difficult to acquire confidential sources after the former NSA employee Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance by the so-called Five Eyes countries, Lashmar found.
The unexpected capability of the surveillance apparatus effectively deters potential sources from contacting journalists – and puts those that do in great danger. The threat “may all but eliminate confidential sources”, the author warns.
Many of the interviewees decried their colleagues’ lack of information security tradecraft, the skill of protecting their sources. Improving this skill is important, as is speaking out against the repressive surveillance, Lashmar concludes.
The article “No more sources?” was published by the journal Journalism Practice. It is available online (abstract free).
Picture: Untitled by AlexVan, licence CC0 1.0.