First Look Media Technology Fellowship

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) is seeking applicants for its first-ever technologist position. The First Look Media Technology Fellow will work to defend the First Amendment and freedom of information by identifying, researching, and advising on the implications of various forms of new technology for media organizations and professional journalists. The First Look Media Technology Fellow will also serve as a liaison to other technologists and organizations, media legal clinics, and journalists on tech-focused issues.

Founded in 1970, RCFP provides resources, legal assistance, and guidance on First Amendment and freedom of information issues—ranging from reporter's privilege to open government to net neutrality to leak investigations. The way in which we consume, create, and disseminate information is rapidly changing. New technologies—like the web—have transformed the landscape in which information flows and irrevocably altered reporter-source relationships. Journalists are exposed to new and complex risks. The First Look Media Technology Fellow will help RCFP expand its outreach and develop tools to safeguard access to information and vital First Amendment freedoms in light of this changing landscape.

The Job

The Media Technology Fellow will serve as an advisor and lead researcher for RCFP on issues including—but not limited to—cybersecurity, the future of media, free expression, privacy, and government surveillance. While this is not a programming position, candidates should have a broad and proven skill set in technology and digital security. The technologist's responsibilities will include:

  • Working with RCFP’s staff attorneys, legal fellows, media company partners, and other free press organizations to identify and stake out positions on the impact of key technology issues on journalism or First Amendment rights.
  • Developing resources for journalists regarding the usage and impact of encryption and digital security tools and other technologies to safeguard confidentiality and First Amendment freedoms.
  • Evaluating the technological implications of the new Justice Department guidelines on subpoenaing journalists and developing strategies for the ongoing dialogue between news organizations and the Justice Department regarding newsgathering rights.
  • Collaborating with law school media legal clinics to bring the expertise of university computer science and technology departments to clinic projects.
  • Blogging for the RCFP website and writing a white paper on a subject connecting technology to First Amendment or press freedoms.
  • Improving RCFP's existing digital media tools, such as iFOIA.org, and developing new online legal resources for journalists.

Additional duties will include building new partners in the technology field, expanding RCFP’s social media profile, and organizing a master list of technologists for outreach.

Who Should Apply?

We’re looking for recent graduates or seasoned professionals with a strong interest in civil liberties and technology.  Candidates need not have a degree in computer science, but some background in Internet technology and programming is desirable. Applicants should be dedicated to First Amendment and journalistic freedoms and motivated to think creatively about the use of encryption and other new technologies to protect and expand these freedoms. They should be adept at communicating highly-complex technical information to non-technical audiences. 

Candidates who possess the following qualities are encouraged to apply:

  • Ability to understand, research, and convey the details of software systems to lay audiences.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Good understanding of computer security and basic encryption technologies, including issues surrounding usability of security and privacy tech.
  • Knowledge of or experience working on privacy, national security, surveillance, and/or free expression issues.

Fellows will be selected on the basis of relevant expertise and a demonstrated commitment to RCFP's mission — namely, protecting and preserving freedom of speech and information. We will place particular emphasis on research experience, or other activities, that have resulted in practical advances in technology law or policy.

Working for RCFP

The fellowship is based at RCFP's office in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The fellowship carries a stipend of $66,666 and will last from 9 to 12 months, depending on experience. The position includes full health benefits. Some travel will be required. 

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and three references to Lois Lloyd at llloyd@rcfp.org