Jenna McLaughlin is NPR’s cybersecurity correspondent, focusing on the intersection of national security and technology.
McLaughlin, who joined NPR in September 2021, aims to tell the human stories behind the hackers — taking listeners beyond the technical details and diving into the reasons why technology’s vulnerabilities and the people who exploit them matter to both the individual and the world.
Before joining NPR, McLaughlin covered national security, intelligence and technology for a range of publications, including Mother Jones Magazine, The Intercept, Foreign Policy Magazine, CNN and Yahoo News.
For example, in 2016, she uncovered startling details concerning a wave of former U.S. intelligence officials performing offensive cyber and other intelligence activities for the U.A.E. government, several of whom in 2021 brokered a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department. In 2018, McLaughlin was part of a team that exposed how a flaw in a CIA covert communication tool led to the imprisonment and death of CIA human sources in China and Iran.
In addition to serious national security stories, McLaughlin has interviewed high school debate teams on their views about privacy and surveillance in the wake of NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013, toured the NSA’s Hawaii outpost on the North Shore of Oahu beneath the pineapple fields, and sampled a meal made with Blackwater Beef, an attempt made by infamous military contractor Erik Prince to rebrand into the food industry in rural Virginia.
McLaughlin’s work has earned her national recognition, including the Gerald R. Ford Award for Reporting on the National Defense in 2019 and a finalist nomination in 2020 for the University of Michigan’s Livingston Awards honoring the best journalists under the age of 35.
Her reporting has taken her from Abu Dhabi to Estonia, and she hopes to regularly travel outside Washington in her role at NPR.
McLaughlin in based in Washington and has appeared as an analyst on MSNBC and CBSN, in addition to frequently moderating expert panels. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars Program, where she was a sea kayaking instructor and Wilderness First Responder.