Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age: Privacy, Security and the Media

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, The New York Times


The ability to effectively interrogate our society’s power structure — a key function of a free press — increasingly requires technological understanding. Major digital platforms have deeply affected our economy and our public discourse. Government and corporate surveillance has transformed our sense of privacy and our system of justice. Security flaws put businesses, personal data and even our democratic process at risk.

Journalists and technologists have traditionally operated in separate spheres, but collaborative work can enable a more accurate public understanding of these problems and can bring more accountability for privacy and security problems. Technologists have a crucial role to play in advancing journalistic investigations in the digital age, particularly by contributing empirical evidence to a narrative structure.

This talk will draw on examples of successful joint work in explaining how to work with reporters to bring privacy and security issues to the public’s attention.

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, The New York Times

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries is a reporter in the investigative group at The New York Times, specializing in technology coverage. She was part of a team that recently won a Polk award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting, for coverage of major technology companies and the hidden costs they present to users and society.

Before joining The Times, she worked at The Wall Street Journal for more than a decade, as an interactive producer, reporter and member of the investigative unit. Her reporting has focused on technology, privacy, computer security and the law. She was a key reporter behind the Journal’s long-running series on digital privacy, “What They Know,” which won a Gerald Loeb award and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2012. She shared an Overseas Press Club award for coverage of companies that enable censorship and surveillance by repressive regimes.

After leaving The Journal at the end of 2016, Ms. Valentino-DeVries helped launch the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She also has reported on Facebook for ProPublica.

Ms. Valentino-DeVries graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and has a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@conference {237243,
author = {Jennifer Valentino-DeVries},
title = {Investigative Journalism in the Digital Age: Privacy, Security and the Media},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,

Presentation Video