Got a tip? Here’s a guide to communicating with and providing materials to our journalists. Please do not send feedback, story ideas, pitches, or press releases through these channels. For more general correspondence visit our about page.

The Trace needs your help to shine a light on America’s gun violence crisis. If you work or have worked for a law enforcement agency, for the federal government, in the gun industry, or at an advocacy organization of any political stripe and have evidence of wrongdoing, or confidential information that you wish to share with our newsroom, please consider this page your guide to ensuring that your tip gets into the right hands, and gets there securely.

Please do not send feedback, story ideas, pitches, or press releases through these channels — contact info for general correspondence can be found on our about page.

Who Covers What

You can reach individual Trace journalists at the email address provided with their beat summaries below. If security or confidentiality is a concern, please scroll down for a guide to encrypted communication.

  • Mike Spies is an investigative staff writer covering the gun lobby and gun policy. His stories for The Trace have appeared in Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and the Tampa Bay Times. He is especially interested in how the NRA and other groups influence firearms laws. You can send Mike an email at [email protected].
  • Elizabeth Van Brocklin is a staff reporter at The Trace, currently focused on documenting the gaps between gunshot survivors’ needs and the services they receive. If you have been shot, and have struggled to find adequate health care, employment, or other needed resources, she would like to hear your story. If you work for an institution that has fallen short in caring for persons with gunshot injuries, she is interested in what you know. Her email is [email protected].
  • Alex Yablon reports on the business of guns. He’s interested in how firearms are sold and marketed, and what drives consumer demand. His stories have also explored the regulation of licensed gun dealers, the links between high caliber ammunition and high capacity magazines and mortality rates, and enforcement programs to reduce the proliferation of illegal firearms. His email is [email protected]
  • Sarah Ryley is an investigative and data reporter at The Trace. Previously, she covered criminal justice at the New York Daily News, where her investigation with ProPublica into the NYPD’s use of the nuisance abatement law won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Her email is [email protected]. She can also be reached on PGP or Signal at (347) 324-8697.
  • Brian Freskos writes about the nexus between the legitimate and illegitimate gun markets, gun theft, and how individuals prohibited from owning firearms are able to gain access to them. His email is [email protected].
  • Ann Givens writes about the nation’s law enforcement agencies, from the ATF to local police departments, and the effectiveness of their efforts to curb gun violence. Her email is [email protected].
  • Ben Hallman is deputy editor at The Trace, in charge of overseeing the site’s investigative journalism. He is a recovering Alabamian, and former concealed-carry license holder who grew up hunting and shooting. He was previously projects and investigations editor at the Huffington Post, where stories he wrote or edited were honored with more than a dozen national awards. If you are interested in writing for The Trace, are partnering with us, email Ben at [email protected].

If you’re unsure of who to contact, you can always email us at [email protected].

Secure Submission Tools

Signal

Security level: High
Difficulty of use: Easy

Signal is an encryption app popular among journalists and leakers for its security. It does not collect metadata on your messages, and does not upload your message history to the cloud. Signal is also open source: That means its code is constantly being tested — and improved — by developers around the world.

What to do

  • Download Signal on iOS or Android.
  • Add us: 646-867-9107
  • Compose your message and hit send.

What to expect

  • If your message isn’t addressed to a particular member of our staff, we will direct it to them.
  • Someone will respond in a timely manner.

WhatsApp

Security level: Moderate
Difficulty of use: Easy

WhatsApp is a mobile messaging service owned by Facebook that provides end-to-end encryption on all of its services: text, photo, and video messaging; voice calls; and document sharing. While Whatsapp cannot read the contents of your messages or see the files you send, the company records who you communicate with and when.

What to do

  • Download Whatsapp on iOS or Android.
  • Add us: 646-867-9107
  • Compose your message and hit send.

What to expect

  • If your message isn’t addressed to a particular member of our staff, we will direct it to them.
  • Someone will respond in a timely manner.

Encrypted Email

Security level: Moderate
Difficulty of use: Moderate

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is a software that allows you to send encrypted messages and documents. When communications are encrypted, only the sender and recipient can read them. Using PGP can be complicated, so we recommend installing Mailvelope, a Chrome and Firefox extension that simplifies the process. While Mailvelope will encrypt the messages or documents that you send over email, it will not encrypt metadata such as the sender, recipient, subject line, or timestamp. This metadata will be available to your email provider.

If you would prefer to send us a PGP message without Mailvelope, we welcome that too.

What to do

  • Download the Mailvelope browser extension for Chrome or Firefox.
  • Use the extension to generate a new PGP key pair for yourself.
  • You can either manually add public keys for our writers, or you can simply type in a writer’s email when first composing a message in Mailvelope’s editor. Our writers are all listed in Mailvelope’s key directory, so the software will automatically search for and add their public keys based on an e-mail address. You can also find all our writers’ Public PGP keys on our About Us page.
  • If you’re sending a plain text e-mail, follow Mailvelope’s instructions on how to compose, sign, and send encrypted messages.
  • If you’re sending an attachment, follow Mailvelope’s instructions on how to encrypt files.

What to expect

  • We’ll respond to you via PGP upon receipt of your encrypted message.
  • We will not contact you by any other means that might compromise your anonymity, unless you feel safe doing so.

USPS Mail

Security level: High
Difficulty of use: Easy

U.S. postal mail without a return address is one of the most secure ways to communicate. Our mailing address is:

The Trace
P.O. Box 4184
New York, NY 10163

What to do

  • If you know who you want to reach, include their name on the outside or inside of your package or envelope. You can also simply address it to “The Trace.”
  • We recommend you use a public mailbox.
  • You can mail us paper materials or digital files on a thumb drive.
  • Include instructions indicating how you would like to be contacted, if you desire to speak with a reporter.

What to expect

  • Once we receive your letter or package, we’ll contact you only if you instruct us to.