Most investigative journalists say the United States government has spied on them, according to new poll.


Approximately two-thirds of the members of the nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors group said the government likely collects journalists' phone call data, emails or online communication. Eighty percent attributed use of such tactics to their profession, according poll from the Pew Research Center/Columbia University.

Fears of government spying are higher among those who report on the federal government or national security and foreign affairs, with 71 percent of those journalists saying the government has collected their data. Sixty-two percent of other investigative journalists agreed.

About half of the investigative reporters surveyed said they've changed how they store their documents due to such concerns.

Fears that the U.S. government has spied on journalists have been highlighted in recent years, as the Obama administration has moved to stop leaks of national security information.

Last week, former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson testified before a Senate panel that she believed Obama officials treat investigative journalists and their sources like "enemies of the state."

"The job of getting at the truth has never been more difficult," she said during the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Under current Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderState courts become battlegrounds in redistricting fights New Hampshire Republicans advance map with substantially redrawn districts Michigan redistricting spat exposes competing interests in Democratic coalition MORE, the Department of Justice secretly seized phone records of Associated Press employees and initially moved to prosecute reporter James Risen from The New York Times.

Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time," described President Obama last week on his show as "perhaps the worst president we've had on clamping down on the press."

Still, the vast majority of investigative journalists surveyed said they're undeterred by government spying, with 3 percent saying such surveillance would prevent them from pursuing a particular story.

Thirteen percent of the journalists said government spying or hacking would make them consider not reaching out to a source, while 2 percent said it would force them to leave investigative journalism altogether.

The poll of 671 investigative reporters, producers, editors, data specialists and photojournalists was conducted online Dec. 3-28.