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Have you ever thought about how your metadata can put you at risk? Do you encrypt your material? Are you aware of the difference between deleting and erasing information? Are you able to remotely wipe your devices? If the answer is no to any of these questions and you are a working journalist (to be), you might consider attending this panel on the Loyola Water Tower Campus this April.

Digital technologies have transformed the way journalists do their jobs. Capturing, storing, and processing data is more convenient for today's reporters  than it was for previous generations of journalists. But this convenience comes at a price. Poor data hygiene can jeopardize anonymous sources, reveal sensitive information, tip off law enforcement or competitors, cause data breaches, violate journalism ethics or expose news organizations to legal liability.

For example, the increase in successful leak prosecutions under the Obama and current administration has been linked to the the fact that tracing anonymous sources has become much simpler today than in the time of Deep Throat: "The Obama administration was able to prosecute more leakers because technology is a double-edged sword, making it both easier to leak vast amounts of classified information and to trace those leaks directly to their sources. This, combined with often poor tradecraft by leakers or journalists, means it is now much simpler for the government to collect tangible evidence permitting prosecution in ways that were previously unavailable." (Mark S. Zaid, Washington Post, June 8, 2017)

This panel will discuss the legal and ethical ramifications of poor data hygiene and cover some basic steps journalists can take to improve their data practices. lt is organized by  the Center for Digital Ethics an Policy, The Chicago Headline Club and the SPJ Student Chapter of Loyola University Chicago. Space is limited and reservations are required. To reserve a seat, email Bastiaan Vanacker at and put "Data Hygiene" in the subject line.


      • Jonathan Peters:  Jonathan Peters is a media law professor at the Grady College for journalism and mass communication at the University of Georgia  Dr. Peters is the press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review, and he has written about legal issues for other news organizations, including Esquire, The Atlantic, Slate, Wired, and CNN. He has also written about the NHL for Sports Illustrated. He is a frequent commentator on First Amendment issues, for such outlets as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, PBS, CNN, Politico, the Associated Press, and The Guardian, among others.
      • Joe Germuska: "Chief Nerd" at the Knight lab at Medill. Joe runs Knight Lab’s technology, professional staff and student fellows. Before joining the Knight Lab, Joe was on the Chicago Tribune News Apps team.
      • Elliott Ramos: Digital Editor at WBEZ, where he is responsible for data reporting, specializing in data visualizations, maps, and analysis. Prior to WBEZ, Elliott was an editor for the Wall Street Journal’s mobile applications department, and at one point, a news editor on its News Hub. He was previously a senior Web editor for the New York Daily News, and interned at the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago RedEye and WBBM CBS2.
      • Jason Grotto:  Reporter at ProPublica Illinois where he specializes in quantitative analysis, using databases, statistics and mapping to ferret out corruption, negligence and bad public policy. Previously, he worked as an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting in 2018, he’s currently the lead reporter on the new ProPublica Illinois/WBEZ collaboration “The Bad Bet,” which is about the state’s botched implementation of video gambling – and how Illinois could repeat its mistakes should the state expand it and legalize sports betting.


      April 11, 2019
      5:45 pm - 7:00 pm

      Loyola University Chicago
      Corboy Law Center Room L14
      25 East Pearson
      Chicago, IL 60611
      United States