Guardian, Washington Post win Pulitzer for Snowden stories

Pieces based on thousands of documents from NSA leaker on surveillance

The winning stories are based on thousands of documents handed over by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Photograph: Reuters

The winning stories are based on thousands of documents handed over by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Photograph: Reuters

 

The Washington Post and the Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, among the most prestigious awards in journalism, for their stories based on National Security Agency documents leaked by the former government contractor Edward Snowden.

Through a series of reports that exposed the NSA’s widespread domestic surveillance program, the Post and the Guardian sparked an international debate on the limits of government surveillance, a formal review from the White House and promises from US president Barack Obama himself to limit the agency’s powers.

The newspapers also came under heavy criticism by the US and British governments, with lawmakers accusing the two papers of compromising national security.

The committee said that it gave the award for the “revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.“

Though the citation did not name specific reporters, the work was led by Barton Gellman at The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill at the Guardian, and Laura Poitras, a filmmaker and journalist who worked with both newspapers.

The Boston Globe won the breaking news prize for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and wounded at least 260. Tuesday is the one-year anniversary of the blast.

Also notable this year was the absence of a prize in one category. The Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University in New York, which administers the awards, did not name a winner in the feature writing category. Two years ago, the judges declined to award prizes for editorial writing and fiction.

The Washington Post won a second award. Eli Saslow, a staff writer, won the prize for explanatory journalism for a series of stories on American families that rely on the federal food stamp programme.

The Post‘s awards arrived under the leadership of a new executive editor, Marty Baron, who took the paper‘s top job in January 2013, and a new owner, Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos, who purchased the newspaper last summer. The New York Times won two awards, both in photography categories.

Tyler Hicks won the Breaking News Photography prize for his coverage of a terrorist attack at an upscale Nairobi mall that left more than 60 people dead. Josh Haner won the feature photography award for his images of the painstaking recovery of a Boston Marathon bombing survivor.

The 2013 awards were the last administered by Sig Gissler, who has held the post of Pulitzer administrator since 2002. Under Gissler, 78, a former editor at The Milwaukee Journal, the prizes opened the competition to online-only news organizations and encouraged the inclusion of digital components with Pulitzer entries.

New York Times