Covering the Military, Veterans and Homeland Security: Tomorrow’s Trends and Issues

October 1-2, 2014 | Washington, DC

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative invites journalists who cover the military, homeland security or defense matters to participate in the National Security Journalism Conference scheduled for October 1 and October 2, 2014 at The Hamilton Crowne Plaza in Washington, DC.

The invitation-only conference, limited to 30 participants, will include a briefing at the Pentagon as well as panel presentations with top military, administration and policy experts to broaden reporter’s expertise on national security and military issues while developing new sources and story ideas.

Major themes will include the future of security; new ideas on covering veterans; and how to conduct effective Internet research on national security (Margot Williams of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been invited to lead the latter session).

Miranda Mulligan of the Knight Lab will lead hands-on work with the latest online presentation tools and show how to use them for defense stories.

Those who are accepted for the conference will receive:

  • A $200 stipend to defray travel costs ($100 if you are within 200 miles of Washington).
  • Lodging  for the nights of September 30 and October 1 at the site of the conference.

To apply for the conference, please fill out this form and then send a resume to the e-mail address listed on the form. Applications without resumes will not be considered.

If you have questions, please contact

How to prepare for an assignment abroad

Going abroad for your first international assignment can be intimidating, so Kerry Luft put together a handy guide to how to deal with being a journalist abroad.

The guide covers everything from getting your visa to staying safe. He also highlights a very important tool that all journalists should have: flexibility.

Continue reading our how-to guide.


Reporter’s privilege issues have come to a head over the past decade as the Bush and Obama administrations have used unprecedented aggressiveness in going after reporters and their sources. NSJI’s Josh Meyer has done extensive research on this topic and has put together two excellent packages to help you avoid the perils and pitfalls.

First, “How to Avoid Legal Trouble Over Sources and Secrets,” an 18-page explanatory guide to the laws and court cases affecting your reporting and sources. Read it or download it.

Next, this How-To briefing also provides journalists with information about what to steps to take to protect themselves from being subpoenaed, and what to do if they are subpoenaed, or come under investigation and possible prosecution.

Continue reading our how-to guide.

The military after Iraq and Afghanistan: Watch the webinar replay

Webinar: The Military After Iraq and Afghanistan

Webinar: The Military After Iraq and Afghanistan. Watch the full webinar.

TOPIC: A Post-Kinetic World: The United States Military After Iraq and Afghanistan. Hosted by Medill National Security Journalism Initiative.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 22, 2014– 1 p.m. Eastern, 12 noon Central Time, 10 a.m. Pacific


OVERVIEW: Focusing on the three major elements of the Obama Administration’s counter-terrorism strategy, Professor Jon Caverley makes a case that direct action is a valuable tool, but journalists are underreporting the other two essential aspects of counter-terrorism that the President outlined in his recent speech at West Point.

Direct action through special operation forces and drone strikes generate headlines, says Caverley, but the second and third elements of the strategy–training of foreign militaries and American arms sales around the world—have the potential to create much larger, long term impacts on international politics.

HOST: Medill Lecturer and NSJI co-director Tim McNulty.

How-to: Covering nuclear weapons operations

Penetrating the world of nuclear weapons is not as hard for a determined journalist as you might think – or as the government might like you to think. It is secretive but not inscrutable.

If you are committed and well-prepared, you can find news in this field and illuminate an aspect of U.S. national security that can seem like an abstraction, even an anachronism, but is still relevant to the lives of all Americans.

The key is knowing where to look, how to decipher the military lingo and why it matters what is taking place within the insular world of nuclear forces. You don’t need to be a military expert or a rocket scientist.

Continue reading our how-to guide on covering nuclear weapons.

Story behind the story

Read how AP’s national security writer discovered problems in the nation’s nuclear defense system and wound up with a ‘months-long cascade of revelations.’