March 20, 2023

Understanding the times: How to Tell Us a Secret

“With WhatsApp, it’s as simple as sending a text message — but it’s encrypted,” Mr. Dance explained.

SecureDrop and encrypted email, on the other hand, take more time for the average user to set up, and can be slightly more complicated to use.

Still, each of the channels has helped deliver useful information. Audio from a speech Hillary Clinton gave during a closed-door gathering in the wake of the 2016 presidential election arrived the same day the tips page debuted; a series of questions posed to the State Department by Mr. Trump’s transition team showed up a few weeks later; and the story about the F.B.I. raid of Michael Cohen’s office started with a tip.

The response from tipsters has been so positive that the newsroom created a searchable database to help its journalists handle the overwhelming volume.

“It’s a great problem to have,” Mr. Dance said.

In that respect, The Times isn’t alone — not anymore, at least. Shortly after Ms. Sandvik and Mr. Dance opened the tips page, BuzzFeed followed suit with a similar page of its own. The Guardian and The Washington Post also provide channels for secure communication with tipsters.

The journalists who make up The Times’s tips team expect that the project, when fully realized, will fundamentally change the newsroom by opening up valuable and searchable information to reporters and editors.

What won’t change, though, is the way that information is handled.

“Each tip, be it from a submission or from a source, is rigorously vetted and probed,” Mr. Dance said.

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