Civil Liberties

Edward Snowden's NSA Leaks Lead to Pulitzer Prize; Pension Crisis Also Noticed


We won't hold our breath for a White House response
Credit: mlcastle / photo on flickr

The Pulitzer Prize has rendered its vote on what it thinks of Edward Snowden's revelation of the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic surveillance techniques today by giving a gold medal in public service to The Guardian US and The Washington Post for breaking the stories. The Pulitzer committee credits the Post for helping "the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security," while The Guardian is recognized for "helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy."

Snowden has already put out 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."

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed tracked down NSA hard-core surveillance-defender and Snowden-hater Rep. Pete King (R-IRA). He told her "Anybody who got a Pulitzer in the past should give it back. The Pulitzer Prize doesn't mean anything now."

The NSA responded by hacking the Twitter feed of US Airways and distracting the world by putting up a picture of a naked woman with a model plane in her nethers. I am kidding about the hacking, but the tweet actually happened and quickly became all everybody was talking about online. It's still not as horrifying as last year, when the Boston Marathon bombing happened right as the winners were being announced. (The Boston Globe got a Pulitzer for breaking news for their coverage.)

Getting much less attention, partly because of the Snowden debate but also because the subject just gets less attention, The Oregonian's editorial board won a Pulitzer Prize in the category of editorial writing for its coverage of the state's pension crisis. The Pulitzer Prize committee praised "its lucid editorials that explain the urgent but complex issue of rising pension costs, notably engaging readers and driving home the link between necessary solutions and their impact on everyday lives." The Oregonian 's package of editorials can be read here.

The full list of Pulitzer winners can be found here.

There's also some interesting topics tackled by the runners-up. The NSA coverage beat out a report by Newsday of concealed police abuse and misconduct by the Long Island police. And The Oregonian beat out editorials at the Des Moines Register challenging Iowa's restrictive licensing laws.