The Guardian is the first British paper to win one of America’s famed Pulitzer prizes, albeit for its American edition as papers outside the US technically can’t win.
The award is for the the paper’s coverage of the Snowden leaks affair. The Washington Post also won two Pulitzer Prizes, including the prestigious public-service medal for the series of stories that exposed the National Security Agency’s massive global surveillance programs.
The Post itself gave joint billing to the Guardian,saying “A team of 28 Post journalists, led by reporter Barton Gellman, shared the public-service award with the British-based Guardian newspaper, which also reported extensively about the NSA’s secret programs.”
Gellman and Glenn Greenwald, then the Guardian’s lead reporter on the NSA pieces, based their articles on classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former government contractor now in exile in Russia.
The Boston Globe won in the breaking-news category for its extensive coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings last April.
The New York Times swept the two photography categories. The award in breaking photography went to Tyler Hicks for his photos of a terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and the feature photography prize went to Josh Haner for his photos of a Boston Marathon bombing victim who lost most of both legs.
The Post said the awards to The Post and Guardian for their NSA reporting are likely to generate debate, “much like the Pulitzer board’s decision to award its public-service medal to the New York Times in 1972 for its disclosures of the Pentagon Papers, a secret government history of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.”
In both the NSA and Pentagon Papers stories, the reporting was based on leaks of secret documents by government contractors. Both Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg — who leaked the Pentagon Papers to Times reporter Neil Sheehan — were called traitors for their actions.
Snowden said in a statement: “Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance. . . .
" My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society.”