The Whistleblower Project

A collaboration between the Society of Professional Journalists and the Government Accountability Project

Introduction A Call to Action Whistleblower Basics Voices Best Practices 25 moments that changed history

Nine Organizations That Work With and Help Whistleblowers

By Dana Gold



A Call to Action: Whistleblower Protection Legislation
If passed, these laws would help improve protection for whistleblowers.

Whistleblower Basics
The Law and Whistleblowing
Deciphering the laws dealing with whistleblowing is complicated, but we hope this will help.

Whistleblowers and Retaliation
Those who expose wrongdoing can face job loss, lawsuits or even prison.

Leaking vs. Whistleblowing
Can you spot the difference between a leaker and a whistleblower? It may be trickier than you think.

Nine Organizations That Work With and Help Whistleblowers

Best Practices for Journalists
Source Protection and Anonymity for Whistleblowers
In political journalism, there’s a debate over allowing sources to talk to you off the record, in order to keep the access pipeline flowing. Anonymity and the ethics of it can also be complicated in situations beyond scoring political points.

Whistleblowers and Reporters: Trust
Here are some best practices to follow when working with a whistleblower on a story.

Technology Can Help Whistleblowers Communicate Anonymously
The ways that reporters and whistleblowers communicate is evolving. The introduction of secure communications has become necessary as journalists try to protect their sources, all the while trying to guarantee the information is secure.

Anonymity: Not Always the Possible, Nor Always the Best, Strategy
Many whistleblowers want to disclose information about trouble in their workplaces while maintaining their anonymity. However, the vast majority of whistleblowers — more than 95 percent — try to solve their problems internally first.

When Working with Whistleblowers, Same Ethical Journalism Principles Apply
Government Accountability Project’s “Working with Whistleblowers: A Guide for Journalists” details best practices for working with whistleblowers.

Kathryn Foxhall: Good whistleblowing simply needs free speech
During the last 25 years it’s become an accepted norm for government, business, nonprofits and other organizations to prohibit employees to ever communicate with journalists without notifying and being overseen by the authorities, often public information officers. The restrictions are intense, highly effective censorship. The Society of Professional Journalists has made opposing them a priority.

Jesselyn Radack: Challenges in Defending National Security Whistleblowers
War crimes, mass surveillance, torture: some of the biggest stories in modern history relied on whistleblowers in national security and intelligence agencies. They came forward at great risk to expose the truth.

Nick Schwellenbach: The Modern Politics of American Whistleblowing
Insiders Valued More Highly in U.S. Society, But Still Face Perils.

25 times whistleblowers changed history
In 2005, Rick Piltz, a senior associate in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, blew the whistle on the George W. Bush administration's improper editing and censorship of reports on global warming. Get the full details of Rick's story, along with 24 other times whistleblowers changed history.

Mary Willingham: An Attempt To Make The College Athletic System Better For Athletes
Mary Willingham talks about why she spoke out about the treatment of college athletes at North Carolina and why — despite death threats from college sports enthusiasts — she would do it again.

Megan Wood: Reporting with Purpose
Megan Wood talks about why she looked into San Diego Christian College’s missing $20 million in expenses and how whistleblowers make a difference in their communities.

Richard Bowen: Blowing the Whistle on Defective Mortgages
While evaluating $90 billion of mortgages Citigroup was buying from Countrywide and other lenders, former Citigroup vice president Richard Bowen tried to warn company leaders and board members about the rise in defective mortgages. In 2010 he testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Here, in Bowen’s words, is what happened next.

Craig Watts: Typical American Farmer Risks Career to Reveal Inhumane Conditions at Chicken Farms
Craig Watts was a typical American farmer with three kids, two dogs, and a barn full of chickens. That all changed though when he decided to show the public the conditions chickens, sold by Perdue farms, were being raised in.

Meet the Project Team

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, having represented or advised more than 8,000 whistleblowers since 1977. As a non-partisan public-interest group, GAP litigates whistleblower cases, helps expose wrongdoing to the public and actively promotes government and corporate accountability. GAP’s work with whistleblowers has involved fighting for accountability in the areas of public health, food safety, national security, human rights, energy and the environment, finance and banking, and international institutions for four decades. In addition, GAP has drafted and spearheaded the campaigns to pass, or helped defend, all the federal whistleblower protection laws that exist today. GAP also established best practice standards for domestic and international whistleblower policies.

Society of Professional Journalists

The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 7,500 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

Other Whistleblower & Journalism Support Organizations

These organizations either offer direct legal representation of whistleblowers or have extensive experience working with whistleblowers and can offer referrals to experienced attorneys.


ExposeFacts is a journalism organization that aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war. They offer legal support to national security whistleblowers as well through their Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR).

Freedom of the Press Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government. They work to preserve and strengthen the rights guaranteed to the press under the First Amendment through crowdfunding, digital security and internet advocacy, particularly noting the important relationship between whistleblowers and journalists in promoting transparency.

National Whistleblower Center

The National Whistleblower Center is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that advocates on behalf of whistleblowers. They have an associated law firm, the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund, that offers legal services to whistleblowers.

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

POGO is a non-partisan, independent watchdog organization that promotes good government reforms by investigating and exposing corruption, misconduct and conflicts of interest. POGO frequently works with government whistleblowers and other inside sources to document evidence of corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local, state and federal government scientists, land managers, environmental law enforcement agents, field specialists and other resource professionals committed to responsible management of America’s public resources.

Whistleblower Aid

Whistleblower Aid is a new non-profit law firm that focuses on federal government whistleblowers, with special emphasis on helping employees expose wrongdoing without unlawfully releasing classified information.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was founded by leading journalists and media lawyers in 1970 when the nation’s news media faced an unprecedented wave of government subpoenas, forcing reporters to name confidential sources. RCFP provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and newsgathering rights of journalists.

Next: Source Protection and Anonymity for Whistleblowers