Not everyone was pleased with reporter Carl Prine’s investigation into the lack of security at America’s chemical facilities — detailed in Exposé’s “Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 1)” In fact, after his initial reports were published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he was sharply criticized by several government officials, including the U.S. Attorney General’s office, which claimed his reporting “directly aided the enemy” by publicly exposing vulnerable targets. The Pennsylvania Department of Emergency Management went so far as to tell Prine he “might as well send a free subscription to Osama bin Laden, because you’re his best friend.”

Since 9/11, many journalists have been attacked for revealing information deemed sensitive to national security. When the New York Times reported on a secret operation tracing the financial records of suspected terrorists, the Bush Administration was outraged and the paper was flogged by conservatives.

Some have suggested the resulting clampdown on information and general distrust of dissenting opinions in the media is actually a “war on the press.” Others have compared the current hostility towards the press to tensions felt during the Vietnam War.

How do journalists weigh the public’s right to know and national security concerns when reporting? The American Journalism Review asked editors at top newspapers this very question. In the AJR article, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller says there’s a “tacit protocol” for dealing with stories the government deems to be threatening to national security. “If the administration is really serious, somebody fairly senior on their side contacts somebody fairly senior on our side,” he says. He also says top editors weigh questions such as: “How fully do the journalists trust their sources? How far do they trust the government officials urging them not to publish? How secret is the secret? Can the story be told in a way that minimizes the risk?”

In Exposé’s “Think Like a Terrorist (Pt. 2),” premiering online this Wednesday, reporter Carl Prine responds to his critics.

The EXPOSÉ: America’s Investigative Reports series is produced by Thirteen/WNET New York in association with CIR.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.