Aspen Digital’s Zach Dorfman to Report and Write Relaunched Axios Codebook Newsletter

May 20, 2020  • Garrett Graff

May 20, 2020 – We’re excited to announce that Aspen Digital is partnering with Axios to relaunch the weekly Codebook newsletter. Starting May 27, our senior staff writer, Zach Dorfman, will be in subscribers’ inboxes every Wednesday, reporting on the latest at the intersection of cybersecurity, national security, and technology.

In the broadest sense, cybersecurity is the story of our time. It’s the story of how we drive, work, vote, and shop. It’s the story of how we deliver health care, electricity, and water. Moreover, in a globalized, wired economy, information is the most valuable natural resource, the currency of the digital age. The global pandemic this spring has only accelerated our society’s push into virtual spaces and new environments, rewriting the rules for government agencies and entire industries and presenting numerous new opportunities and vulnerabilities.

And yet despite their growing importance to our daily lives, cybersecurity and technology—and the important policy choices wrapped up in them—remain too little understood in the corridors of Washington, in corporate boardrooms, and around America’s kitchen tables. We’ve seen lawmakers in congressional hearings fumble to grasp basic answers about how the major social media companies function; we’ve seen government departments and agencies stumble in response to attacks from foreign adversaries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea; we’ve seen Fortune 100 companies hobbled by ransomware and pillaged of their intellectual property; and we continue to see deliberate efforts online to deceive and mislead the American public about basic facts, from vital information on health care to the foundations of democracy.

The cybersecurity program at The Aspen Institute was founded in 2017 to help educate and illuminate this complex new world and bring together critical voices from government, business, and civil society to help solve the most pressing problems in cybersecurity. Our work focuses on helping people make smarter choices about security and technology, and this new partnership with Axios—which has pioneered its inimical “Smart Brevity” format to inform readers quickly about what matters most—is a wonderful new opportunity to lead the national conversation and create a deeper public understanding of how cybersecurity shapes our future.

One of the reasons we’re excited about this collaboration is because we’ve long believed that one of the reasons that cybersecurity and technology seem so confounding and opaque to policymakers and business leaders is because the journalists who write about it too often don’t understand the subject themselves. We believe smart writing will lead to smarter policy. (Another of our Aspen Digital initiatives, our annual Newmark Cyber Journalism Fellowship, also focuses on this challenge, bringing in national security reporters and editors for hands-on training in the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity to help them understand these questions better.)

Subject-matter expertise on technology and national security will be a unique strength of the new team behind the relaunched Axios Codebook: each week, Zach Dorfman will work closely with Axios’s technology editor Scott Rosenberg, who is himself a thoughtful, longtime pioneer of the tech reporting world. (When I taught social media at Georgetown a decade ago, Scott’s book on blogging, SAY EVERYTHING, was one of the core texts of my class.)

Zach, for his part, is a distinguished national security journalist who has written for POLITICO, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and other publications, and his work has focused on challenges that nation-states like China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran pose to the US and our western allies; the inner workings of the $60-billion-a-year world of US spy agencies; and the ways in which technology is changing what intelligence is and how it’s gathered. Last year, he and Jenna McLaughlin received the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Defense Reporting for their Yahoo News series on how the secret online channels that the CIA used to communicate with its sources in China were compromised, exposing these sources’ identities and leading to numerous arrests and even executions.

Want to subscribe to Axios Codebook and follow along on Zach’s weekly exploration of all things cyber? Click here.

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