Ethical Challenges in National Security Reporting


Engineering and Applied Sciences


Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy

Project Summary

My internship was run through the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and involved research in both law and political science. The work that I did actually consisted of three separate projects, in which I was, in each, part of a team of between three and four interns.

My primary project involved doing research into the current state of journalism, specifically with regards to the rise in “fake news,” as propagated by Facebook, Twitter, etc. The work that I did was mainly focused on finding the most relevant sources of information and research on this topic, which would then be sent to a list of journalism, intelligence, and free speech experts whom my team and I compiled. These experts were invited attend a conference on ethical journalism, media leaks, and fake news to take place this November. We also took the research we found and created a draft of a policy briefing paper on these issues, making recommendations about solutions to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The secondary project which I worked on centered around an extremely topical issue: North Korea and the possibility of conflict. Again, my team and I did research on this topic, focusing especially on the feasibility of negotiations between North Korea and the rest of the world, with the end goal being greater stability on the Korean peninsula and in the whole world. We compiled a list of experts for this conference as well, and found the most useful and important sources on negotiations (or the possibility thereof) with North Korea and other so-called “rogue states”. We then invited the experts to take part in two panel discussions about how North Korea should be handled in order to create a safer world.

Lastly, my administrative project was all about raising the profile of the institute which I was interning with. To do this, the team and I pursued a social media campaign involving both Facebook and Twitter accounts that regularly post links to articles that deal with national security, ethics, and the rule of law.

When looking back on my experience, the most important piece of knowledge that I believe I have gained is that it is very easy to fall into cut-and-dry solutions and extremes when examining such important issues as domestic and foreign security, but in reality, it takes moderation, dedication, open-mindedness, creativity, and an ability to look at dozens of different angles to any problem to even begin to solve such complex dilemmas, if such solutions are even truly possible. By taking part in this research, and learning this for myself, I have gained an ability to think outside of the box when it comes to issues of national security. Similarly, the chance I received to talk to both highly accomplished interns and experts during this internship made me consider many new perspectives, which will be incredibly beneficial when I return to school to continue my political science studies. All of this, in turn, has made me far more confident in my educational direction.