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 (with The Washington Post’s Margot Williams).

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

Why you need a fixer — and how to find one

If you’re going abroad to report for the first time – or even the 100th — you’re probably going to need a fixer.

What is a fixer? In no particular order: a guide, a personal assistant, a secretary, a translator, scheduler, social secretary, driver, restaurant critic, travel agent, safety consultant, a cutter of red tape, and an interpreter of local customs.

Simply put, a fixer is a locally based person hired to help you do your job as a visiting journalist. While some of the tasks that fixers traditionally performed for correspondents can be easily handled through the wonders of the Internet, they remain invaluable colleagues, the unsung heroes of foreign reporting.

Continue reading our how-to guide that is is designed to teach you how to find fixers, evaluate them and work with them to make your journalism better.


Reporter’s privelege 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.

This How-To briefing from the Medill National Security Initiative’s Josh Meyer 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.

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.’

Military suicides trending down; gap between casualties and suicides grows

Military Suicides

Overall suicides in the U.S. military were down just under 10% in 2013 over the year before, although there was slight increase (5%) among reservists and those not on active duty, new data from the Department of Defense shows.

With the wind-down in Afghanistan well under way, the gap between casualties and suicides grew even more dramatically, now nearly 4-1 vs. just under 2-1 the year before. (See chart above).

Continue reading