Friday, May 17, 2013

New Yorker Strongbox -- citizen+mainstream journalism

Internet-based citizen journalism predates the Web and has played an important role in hotspots around the world. Conventional jourlists typically rely upon and magnify the impact of citizen journalism, as exemplified by the use of Twitter by television stations in the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing.

The New Yorker Magazine has taken another step toward citizen+mainstream journalism -- The New Yorker Strongbox -- a secure, anonymous means of communicating with New Yorker editors.

Strongbox uses Tor servers to hide the identity and location of a citizen journalist who submits automatically encrypted messages and files to the New Yorker. The New Yorker editors communicate with the submitter using a randomly generated code name and they have no way to learn who the person is or where they are located.

In the past, Wikileaks has served as an intermediary between anonymous citizen journalists and mainstream publications. The New Yorker is now directly reachable. Will other mainstream publications follow their lead?

(If you cover citizen journalism as a teacher, these teaching modules may be of interest).

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Update 5/17/2013

Steve Gibson talked about Strongbox during episode 404 of his Security Now podcast. The Strongbox segment begins at the 22m 50s point. Gibson talks about the history of the project, which was developed by Internet Activist Aaron Swartz. Gibson expects many news organizations to follow the New Yorker's lead and he pointed out that the open source project is freely available on GitHub.