Interview: Craig Newmark Journalist Scholar Julian Hayda on the importance of cybersecurity for journalists

Today we are interviewing Craig Newmark Journalist Scholar Julian Hayda who joined GCA on a one year term under our Craig Newmark Trustworthy Internet and Democracy Program in July. Julian spent four years working as a talk show producer for various National Public Radio stations, and before that worked in local ethnic media and broadcasting. He graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a BA in Journalism and Digital Cinema and earned his Master’s degree in International Studies last year. Welcome Julian!

Hi it’s great to be here!

So Julian, what have you been primarily focussed on during your time at GCA?

The past few months have been mostly focused on rolling out the journalism toolkit, which is a really great way that journalists can mitigate some of their risks while publishing and doing their reporting online.

Are there any specific pressures or threats you feel journalists are under and how does that impact their cybersecurity posture?

Perhaps the biggest threat to journalists isn’t necessarily the cyber vulnerability they face as reporters personally, but how they understand the often less-than-visible infrastructure that’s keeping them and their audiences safe online every day. Cybersecurity is one of those things you don’t see if it’s working right. And because it’s unseen, people don’t understand it. That poor understanding can be easily exploited. For example, elected officials can blame hackers for posting something online that turns out to be embarrassing or unpopular. Governments can blame bad domestic policy on a foreign technical operations. Negligent businesses can allow data to fall into the wrong hands, embellishing the sophistication of the thieves to vindicate themselves. I think journalists need to develop better cyber literacy so that clouds of esoteric cyber-speak don’t obscure important nuances about the behavior of people they’re tasked with holding accountable.

How does the Cybersecurity Toolkit for Journalists address these issues?

Haha! Well, the toolkit doesn’t necessarily address those particular issues directly—that’s a broader discussion that needs to be had—but the toolkit does help journalists maintain a certain peace of mind while doing their work. At a time when ever-fewer journalists need to cover ever-more complex stories, knowing that sources are protected, data can’t be manipulated, and partially-reported stories can’t be leaked helps journalists keep their eyes on the prize.

Tell us more about the Craig Newmark Trustworthy Internet and Democracy Program.

Craig Newmark is among a rare breed of Silicon Valley veterans who understands that for every technical solution we find to problems, certain social issues still need to be addressed. As it stands, democracy is the best form of government we have. But democracy is also inherently vulnerable—whenever lots of people with opposing opinions are empowered with certain levers of power, they can be easily manipulated. That’s where a trustworthy internet comes in. It’s important to ensure that the channels of communication we depend on to make our democracy thrive can’t be hijacked.

It’s great having you with us this year - you are certainly making a valuable contribution to our work! For more information on the program: Craig Newmark Scholars Program - Global Cyber Alliance
And you can access the Cybersecurity Toolkit for Journalists here:

Thank you! And thanks so much to Craig Newmark, as well as all of the awesome people I’ve met so far during this work at the GCA. Please feel free to join me in the Journalist Community Forum if you have any questions, or if anybody just wants to chat, and share resources!