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Guardian & Washington Post claim Pulitzer for Edward Snowden coverage

The reports have sparked a huge debate in the US on the merits and morality of mass public surveillance.

THE GUARDIAN US and the Washington Post are sharing a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Edward Snowden revelations.

The two newspapers shared the prestigious US award for reporting based on documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor.

In arguably the most influential story of the decade, The Guardian and The Washington Post broke sensational new ground by exposing how the US government monitors the data of millions.

The question of whether the board would honour their reporting was one of the main issues on the minds of Pulitzer-watchers ahead of this evening’s announcement.

Returning

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, US journalists who interviewed Snowden in Hong Kong, returned home to the United States on Friday for the first time after breaking the story.

They told reporters after receving a George Polk Award for their coverage with The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill and the Post’s Barton Gellman that they fear arrest and being subpoened.

“I can’t imagine a more appropriate choice for a Pulitzer Prize,” New York University media studies professor Mark Miller told news agency AFP ahead of this evening’s announcement.

Glenn Greenwald has done what American journalists are supposed to do, which is serve the public interest by shedding a bright light on egregious abuse of power by the government.

There is “tremendous pressure” on journalists to toe the line, Miller said, despite America’s relaxed press freedom laws.

“The real journalistic heroes in this country tend to be the mavericks, the eccentrics, those who dare to report stories that are often dismissed derisively as ‘conspiracy theory,’” he added.

The revelations contained in the reports embarrassed the US Government, strained relations with allies angered that Americans had been tapping into the private phone calls of leaders, and sparked a debate within the United States on the merits and morality of mass surveillance.

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Public opinion on Snowden in the US remains divided.

The Pulitzer Prizes, awarded by Columbia University, are given in 14 categories of journalism. They’re decided by a 19-member board.

Other winners this year include the staff of the Boston Globe, for their coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, and New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks for his coverage of the siege at the Westgate Mall in Kenya.

Includes reporting from AFP.

Read: Major victory for Irish online rights group as ECJ strikes down EU mobile surveillance rules

Read: People tweeted wonderfully stupid questions to Edward Snowden’s live webcast

Read: More Snowden revelations: NSA collected almost 200 million texts a day

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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