Most reporters will never get a story as earth-shaking as the one leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who provided a massive cache of proof that the American government had built a secret, globally pervasive electronic surveillance program. But more reporters are getting ready for exactly that.

“It made me realize I needed to learn encryption,” said Rachel Oswald, a national security reporter at CQ Roll Call, referring to Snowden’s use of encryption to communicate with the journalists he leaked the story to. “I’m convinced it’s important, and I feel a professional obligation that I learn this.”

With the help of the National Press Club, Oswald recently organized a tutorial for journalists on ways to keep communication private, and she was one of the many professional journalists who gathered Friday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to learn more about safe computing from some of the legends of national security reporting.

We may live in a digital world, but some of the top reporters who spoke at the event agreed: The gold standard for doing effective frontline reporting hasn’t changed much since the dawn of journalism.

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