Tag: Kyla Woods

Good surveillance can’t be detected: Gregoire Pouget on cyber security for journalists


Digital security has become an unavoidable topic due to exponential expansion of the internet.

Grégoire Pouget, the head of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) New Media desk, spoke to Blink’s Kyla Woods about RSF’s Digital Safety workshop and techniques that journalists can use to improve their cyber security.

K: What events prompted RSF to introduce digital security workshops?

G: In 2005, RSF released a report titled ‘Enemies of the Internet‘. This report detailed the alarming threat of online surveillance and forms of cyber censorship in all countries. At this point, RSF decided to introduce internships to aid in facilitating awareness about these issues.

We changed our approach to cyber security. In 2011, we realized that censorship was the biggest online problem. Consequently, we decided to take action and begin training media professionals. However, we soon realized that data protection and surveillance was the biggest online threat. Even now we believe that surveillance and different forms of censorship are two threats that are equally imposed.


K: Does Reporters Without Borders provide a series of different cyber security trainings?

G: Reporters Without Borders hosts a three to four-day cyber security training workshop with journalists all over the world. We have an “in-house” training session that usually lasts half a day. We keep all our resources for cyber security on the ‘Digital Security’ part of our website, which is in both English and French. We also have other readily accessible online resources featured on our blog.

Inside this training, we explain the fundamentals of the digital security. RSF provides the basics of privacy protection, threats and net surfing. We provide tools like VPN (Virtual Private Network), which is an Internet encrypted tunnel between your computer and a VPN server. We use another tool; Tor, free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance.

The website details the full program.


K: What do you teach in these workshops?

G: We teach the security basics, so privatizing your data so that people can’t access it. We provide tools that act as an electronic safe, like TrueCrypt, and aid in removing sensitive data from your hard drive, such as Eraser. We touch on the management of data, the process of backing up your hard drive, GPS and Internet threats.

Then comes the more interesting stuff that is crypto for dummies. These tools are very easy to install. CryptoCat, for example, is a useful app that allows you to securely chat with your friends either on a browser or mobile phone. Another is Malivelope, which enables the exchange of encrypted emails following the OpenPGP encryption standard. We also introduce participants to programs that hide your online presence, such as a VPN.

Generally, we design our program three days before hand, as we want it to accommodate to the students needs.


K: How does an individual know if their cyber-security is jeopardized?

G: The problem is that good surveillance can’t be detected. Most journalists suspect surveillance because there is a noise when they call someone, or the battery of their cell phone has an issue where it cannot last longer than half a day. There are times when it is blatantly obvious like when a journalist receives a phone call explaining that someone/somewhere knows that you have been working on a certain subject.

Unfortunately, a breach of cyber security is not something that is easily proven, but it is something that you can sometimes sense. RSF has developed a strategy to counteract this, which is when we provide training whether, in Pakistan or Afghanistan, we scan journalist’s hard drives.


K: Does it find specific spyware?

G: Yes, and this is the only way to find proof that someone has been under surveillance. When we begin the workshop, we use a software released by Amnesty International called Detekt, to scan someone’s hard drive and see if a spyware called Kingfisher was used on their computer.


K: How do you keep up to date with the advancements in surveillance technology? How do you learn about the advancements?

G: Firstly, we undertake extensive online research. Secondly, we try to stay up to date by networking with hackers around the world and attending events such as Chaos Computer Club.


K: Do you have any security advice for freelance journalists and photojournalists?

G: Be cautious. You do not need to use fancy cryptography tools- stick to the basics. This means regularly updating your operating system, updating your software, using an antivirus, and no use of cracked operating systems. If you can, and you are interested in this kind of thing, we strongly advise people to use free and open source software. At the same time be concerned about your physical security.


Related Articles:

RSF Online Survival Kit: https://wiki.rsf.org/doku.php

Building Digital Security for Journalism: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002323/232358e.pdf

The international women’s fund has just developed a new security app which send alert messages and photo/video if there is a potential risk, and an SOS button to push a distress message to the journalist’s designated contacts before the app shuts down to prevent unwanted access. The IWMF is running a 6-week pilot program this summer to see how it works in the field and make it better. It will be FREE for freelancers, and could be a great resource for people without institutional security backup. It comes in Arabic, English, French, Hebrew and Spanish for iPhone and Android. If people want to participate, email: Cassie Clark at [email protected].

Grégoire Pouget worked for 10 years as an editor, web designer and developer before joining Reporters Without Borders (RWB). After having worked as head of the IT department, he joined the new media office where he leads projects on data security and the circumvention of censorship on the net.

Kyla Woods works as a freelance writer based in New York, specializing in current affairs, photography, and design. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Kyla has contributed to articles featured in Long Cours, Le Figaro, Le Point, Gatopardo, This is the What, and Foam Magazine. Kyla has also been featured in the French magazine Jalouse. Since 2013, Kyla has regularly written for Musée Magazine, a digital magazine dedicated to displaying the work of international emerging photographers, Peril Magazine, an online magazine that focuses on issues of Asian Australian arts, and worked at the Bronx Documentary Center. She was also involved in the 2015 PhotoBook Melbourne Festival.

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Founders of #Dysturb on current and future operations.

At midnight, the New York #Dysturb team slipped out of a cream colored Cadillac, popped the trunk and swiftly gathered a large rolled up poster, a ladder and a bucket of glue. Within 20 minutes, Olivier Jobard’s (M.Y.O.P) image of displaced migrants taking refuge in a Tioxide plant was planted firmly on the granite of the Manhattan Bridge.

This is the second time that #Dysturb has taken the streets of New York to inform the public through imagery. Blink caught up with Pierre Terdjman and Benjamin Girette, the founders of #Dysturb, to talk about their operation and its future.

K: How did #Dysturb come about?

P: I wanted to give more visibility to my stories, so this project began with my pictures. We quickly saw that people liked it and decided to paste pictures by other photographers.

This idea was born out of frustration. Photographers can spend weeks, sometimes months, on a story. These stories are published, but they have a tendency to evaporate into the continuous cycle of news. We paste these images, these snippets of stories, so that they can resonate with others. And, in some ways, we want them to transcend the cycle, because these events that we’re documenting are shaping the world in which we live.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Ashley Gilbertson’s (VII) image pasted on the corner of Humboldt St & Metropolitan Ave, East Williamsburg. ©Benjamin Petit

K: You use guerrilla style street art tactics to paste images, yet you are not activists?

B: We do not consider ourselves activists because we do not have any agenda with regards to social or cultural changes. We simply want to inform and we do this by pasting current news photography in public spaces.

The primary goal of #Dysturb is to provide free information to the public. And in particular, we aim to educate youths, especially those still in school or university, on how they can read/ digest current journalism, and discuss current events with others.

P: There is this idea floating around that photojournalism, in general, is a form of activism. As Benjamin said, activism implies choosing a side, and, as (this is) the case with most forms of photojournalism, it is our duty not to (do this). We are only allowed to document the facts.

As members of #Dysturb, we can understand why some refer to us as activists, but ultimately the only “taking of sides” we do, is taking the side that wants to promote discussion about international issues and events through imagery.

K: Many people believe you are in competition with JR, are you?

P: We are not in competition with him. JR is doing wonderful work, and it is refreshing to see an innovative take on portraiture. While we do share some similarities, such as large format, black and white imagery, the dissemination of others’ stories in public spaces, or even the fact that we are both French, there are some very prominent differences.

Firstly, he is an artist and we are photojournalists. Secondly, photojournalists from around the world contribute to #Dysturb, either by submitting their images or by helping to paste imagery. Remember, this is a reaction to the failing economic model of the news industry, and it is our wish to inform others about current events despite the lack of funding or interest.

Once upon a time, photojournalists were well paid and their work motivated entire nations to address societal issues. Now however, media mistrust has desensitized readers to the validity of our photographs. This is why we have focused on working with educational facilities.

B: There is one thing I want to add. The only reason why #Dysturb uses black and white printing is because it’s cost effective!

K: Can you talk about #Dysturb’s work with schools?

B: At the moment, we are working with schools in France, Australia and the United Kingdom, to whom we send current photojournalism on a monthly basis. We usually begin this relationship by hosting a workshop or holding a lecture/ talk with a certain demographic at an educational facility.

It has been overwhelming to see how responsive students are. As you may know, we only paste international news within a country, so some of these children are really curious about the different worlds that are portrayed. We have taught, and pasted with, students as young as 10 years old, and regardless of the age, everyone finds them fascinating.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Vlad Sokhin’s image pasted on the corner of Clifton Place & Bedford Ave, Brooklyn. ©Benjamin Petit

K: Apart from these types of collaborations, do you have any other ways of developing #Dysturb?

B: As we continue to expand our operation, we hope to add an interactive element so that the audience, regardless of their age, can communicate with the photographer and his/her stories.

We already have a functioning app (for smartphones) that enables you to view the closest images to you and information about each of them. However, we are looking to enhance it by introducing features that allow users to immediately follow the photographer on social media, to access articles in which the picture has been published, and to see alternative images that relate to a particular topic.

#Dysturb is also looking to include Podcasts into the operation. This would give photojournalists a chance to speak in detail about the story behind the image, and about their experience in the field. We really want to create a sense of intimacy between the photojournalist and the audience, and this is something that is completely absent from current media publishing platforms.

#Dysturb campaign in NYC. ©Benjamin Petit

Mario Cruz’s image pasted on the corner of Bowery St & Lafayette, Soho. ©Benjamin Petit

K: Does #Dysturb have any incoming revenue? How would your economic model differ from that of a traditional media portal?

B: Through our collaborations with schools and festivals, we are covering operational costs. At the moment, this is by no means enough to sustain #Dysturb, but we believe that if enough educational facilities partner with us, it could be.

P: Yes, we are also looking for NGO’s and GO’s for support. There is one thing I want to clarify, we don’t use advertisements for revenue.

K: If an organization donates money to #Dystub, you wouldn’t place their logo on your images?

B: No, we wouldn’t. We might make a thank you announcement via social media, or place their logo in our ‘Sponsors’ section of our website, but otherwise no.

K: Do you think photo collectives, like #Dysturb, help struggling photojournalists?

B: We believe that the idea of community is important. We are fighting together, and we give each other tips and assignments, etc. It is hard for everyone! Even people who have won a World Press award have had hard months. So, as a freelancer, it is a good idea to be involved in a collective.

Disclosure: Kyla Woods has worked for #Dysturb on a freelance basis since early 2015.

Pierre Terdjman began his career in the Israeli daily left wing newspaper Haaretz. In 2007, he returned to France to join the team of photographers at Gamma agency. Since then he has covered the post-election violence in Kenya, the Russian-Georgian conflict, Afghanistan (where he spent a year following a French unit for Paris-Match), and Haiti after the earthquake. More recently, he photographed the Arab Spring, covering both the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt and the struggle for liberation against Gaddafi in Libya. He is also regularly in Israel, and is documenting the fall of the Israeli dream in a long term project called “La La Land”. In 2012, he won a scholarship Photoreporter Festival of Saint-Brieuc to continue his work in the long term. In 2013, he covered the uprising of violence’s in Central Africa for the French magazine Paris Match. Earlier this year, he won the Lens Culture Award for a picture from his work in Central African Republic. His photographs are regularly published in Paris Match, GQ and The New York Times Magazine. In April 2015, Pierre joined Getty Images Reportage.

In 2014, Pierre and Benjamin Girette co-founded #Dysturb, and then in April 2015, Pierre joined Getty Images Reportage.

Benjamin Girette is a photojournalist based in Paris. In 2011, he joined IP3 Press agency, and since then has been covering both national and international news stories. His reports include the fall of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, illegal immigration in Italy, the Indignados movement in Spain and the fall of Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. One of his most recent reports was on the uprising in Ukraine, in Kiev. His photos have been published in French and international newspapers and magazines.

Kyla Woods works as a freelance writer based in New York, specializing in current affairs, photography, and design. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Kyla has contributed to articles featured in Long Cours, Le Figaro, Le Point, Gatopardo, This is the What, and Foam Magazine. Kyla has also been featured in the French magazine Jalouse. Since 2013, Kyla has regularly written for Musée Magazine, a digital magazine dedicated to displaying the work of international emerging photographers, Peril Magazine, an online magazine that focuses on issues of Asian Australian arts, and worked at the Bronx Documentary Center. She was also involved in the 2015 PhotoBook Melbourne Festival.

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Maggie Steber on Visual Storytelling

Maggie Steber has an enduring passion for photography. Not only is she an award-winning documentary photographer, who has travelled extensively to cover humanistic stories, but she has also worked as photo editor, and for four years served as Director of Photography for The Miami Herald.

Last week, Kyla Woods spoke with Maggie about her work, the progression of visual storytelling and what she is looking for in Getty/Instagram Grant submissions.

K: You are a photographer, but you were also a picture editor?

M: Yes, I am a documentary photographer. I have worked in sixty-five countries, and I have been doing this for a long time.

I have created several long-term projects; one on Haiti, where I still work after thirty years. Another was about my mother, who for eight years suffered from memory loss. Initially, those images were made just for myself. However, it ended up becoming a project that I made public because of what I learned. Not only about how to ensure better care for people, but also in terms of witnessing the end of somebody’s life who meant something to you.

I was also a picture editor and a director of photography at a major newspaper. I love looking at pictures taken by other people – I could do it all day. I am just thrilled with the idea that everybody sees something different.

K: How long have you worked in the media industry?

M: I am elusive about it, but let’s just say a long time.

The reason that I am elusive is that I am concerned about age discrimination. In the sense that when you’ve been around for a long time people know of you, but they think “oh, she does this, she does that.” There is less sense of adventure about you, less mystery or surprise and so one has to work constantly to reinvent one’s self.


K: Can I ask you about this pigeon-hole idea; is that a prevailing mentality in the industry?

M: There are many photographers and a lot of them specialize in a specific genre or visual language or subject, and then they become known for that. However, even if they do specialize, they might change stylistically in the future.

In the meantime, there are people like me who love to do a lot of different things. I have also had the good fortune to be affiliated with National Geographic for many years, and now people think that this is all I do.

There is such a plethora of talent now, so picture editors have to organize photographers into categories because often they have to find somebody to do an assignment in five minutes.  Editors also have a tendency to look at a body of work, especially at portfolio reviews, and they are unable to step outside of the box of their magazine and see the work for what it is. This doesn’t especially serve a photographer at a portfolio review because it is a critique that comes from a narrow point of view.

Picture editors, the unsung heroes of this industry, have the ability to make photographers look great. At the same time, they can make them look terrible. They battle on our behalf and on behalf of our pictures, and many photographers have no idea about what a tough battle that can be.

Happy Birthday Madje ©Maggie Steber

Happy Birthday Madje ©Maggie Steber

K: How has visual storytelling evolved over the years?

M: When I was learning about photography, I found inspiration in Robert Frank and Eugene Smith. There were some Life Magazine photographers who created great work. Bill Eppridge did a great story on Needle Park. But I think they tended to have a certain look.

There was also a kind of University of Missouri look, which was very classic and beautiful. I didn’t go to school there, but many photographers did, and they had this beautiful visual style that lasted a long time. The composition and structure were distinct, and you could see it everywhere.

One prevalent problem is that photographers keep taking the same pictures over and over again. The issues never change. There will always be poverty, war, famine, and abuse. All of these things are issues that photographers feel compelled to capture. However, if we keep taking the same kind of pictures, viewers will feel a visual fatigue in regards to the sameness of photographic approach and visual reporting. As photographers we have to think: “How can we take new kinds of pictures that look different but still tell the story in an intimate way?”

Now, photography is moving towards a more contemporary look. Some pictures are very obvious, and there is nothing wrong with that. Those are genuine, honest images. But, if we’ve seen them before, we play less attention. Something that is quite contemporary is when photographers tell personal stories about their families. For example, Diana Markosian’s photo essay “Inventing my Father” and Jen Davis’ work on her body weight. There are others too of course.

I love that idea of turning the camera on ourselves. As photographers, we are always asking people to reveal so much about themselves, and it’s only fair that photographers also do that. The extraordinary thing I learned is that we can save ourselves through photography.


K: What role do you think technology is playing in this modern day visual storytelling?

M: It has certainly impacted photography in a way that has been both good and challenging.

The audience has exponentially expanded, and new technological inventions have seen interactive media become a commonly used tool. As a user, you can have an immersive experience, and this inspires you to find out more information on different subjects. But because of the easy availability of people to have access to smartphones, or cheaper cameras, everyone has become a photographer.  I love the democracy of this idea so much but there is also an important professional aspect that many would-be or emerging photographers are not aware of.

Madje had good days and bad ones. She went through stages of kicking, scratching, screaming, wandering, anger, fear, paranoia and gentle behavior, stages that all dementia victims suffer from and which pass. ©Maggie Steber

Madje had good days and bad ones. She went through stages of kicking, scratching, screaming, wandering, anger, fear, paranoia and gentle behavior, stages that all dementia victims suffer from and which pass. ©Maggie Steber

K: Do you believe there is a degree of advocacy in compelling visual storytelling?

M: Yes. However, the Internet has allowed it to reach a broader audience – and this is why it seems to be abundant.

The Everyday Project on Instagram is a great example of that. Peter DiCampo, a photojournalist and the co-founder of Everyday Africa, was tired of seeing the tragedy, suffering, war, and disease that had befallen parts of Africa. As a result, he created an account that displayed positive images of Africa, on a platform with a large audience. Images shape the way we think about people and places, and if we only see dark images, we do not see the full picture.

Everyday Climate Change is also another great example. Humanity is at a point where advocacy needs to be integrated into storytelling.


K: Can you talk about the problems that young professionals face?

M: There are many young photographers who don’t understand that if you work in this profession, it’s for the long haul. It’s an industry that requires ideas, energy, a lot of very hard work and believing in your ideas – because often, no one else does.

Young photographers also need to have the discipline to observe. When you start shooting, think about things and how a big subject can be boiled down into something manageable. Sometimes we can tell the story of many through the story of one or how you can relate the story of one to the story of many. Research is essential – you need to look at what is out there on that subject so that you understand what you have to do differently. This industry is tough and competitive, but it can also enable you to lead a remarkable life.

There are some photographers who have been discovered, and they become overnight stars. However, they are not prepared for what follows. Suddenly everybody wants you, and you can burn out so fast! I’ve seen it happen even in my generation, where people became overwhelmed; they didn’t know how to say no, and they burned out.


K: You are a judge for the Instagram/ Getty Grant – can I ask what qualities you will be looking for in submissions?

M: The theme is designed to shed light on underrepresented communities. I believe that all the judges will be looking for this.

At the same time, I am looking for stories – the same stories we have seen throughout the years, but told in a new way perhaps with a new approach, visually and philosophically, or something that has a different point of view. I hope some people are thinking about animals, too, as these are communities that are underrepresented.

The work submitted doesn’t even have to be story-related. It could be an essay, or work that is so out of this world, but it must give voice or shine a spotlight on underrepresented communities.


Maggie Steber is a documentary photographer who has worked in 65 countries. Her honors include the Leica Medal of Excellence, World Press Photo Foundation, the Overseas Press Club, Pictures of the Year, the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, the Alicia Patterson Grant, the Ernst Haas Grant, and a Knight Foundation grant for the New American Newspaper project. Steber has served as a Newsweek Magazine contract photographer and as the Asst. Managing Editor of Photography and Features at The Miami Herald, overseeing projects that won a Pulitzer and were twice finalists for the award. She served as a jurist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize awards. Clients include National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, AARP, The Guardian, and Geo Magazine. Steber teaches workshops internationally including at the World Press Joop Swart Master Classes, the International Center for Photography, Foundry Workshops and the Obscura Photo Festival.

Kyla Woods works as a freelance writer based in New York, specializing in current affairs, photography, and design. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Kyla has contributed to articles featured in Long Cours, Le Figaro, Le Point, Gatopardo, This is the What, and Foam Magazine. Kyla has also been featured in the French magazine Jalouse. Since 2013, Kyla has regularly written for Musée Magazine, a digital magazine dedicated to displaying the work of international emerging photographers, Peril Magazine, an online magazine that focuses on issues of Asian Australian arts, and worked at the Bronx Documentary Center. She was also involved in the 2015 PhotoBook Melbourne Festival.

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