The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, poses in a photo with a mangled piece of metal alongside a story Monday announcing his European Press Prize for leading a team of reporters on their NSA coverage.
What he’s holding isn’t the award, though, but one of the mangled hard drives containing National Security Agency files that Rusbridger and staff at The Guardian destroyed last year under government orders.
The Guardian was given “The Special Award” by judges at the European Press Prize – Europe’s equivalent of the Pulitzers – at a ceremony in London which brought together leading journalists, editors and commentators from across the continent.
Announcing the award, BBC Today presenter Justin Webb said Snowden had been “the biggest global story of the year”. The series of revelations about the extent of state surveillance had “set alarm bells ringing throughout the world.”
While accepting the award, The Guardian reported, Rusbridger spoke about destroying those hard drives.
He said the Guardian had continued to publish stories from the US – where there is no prior restraint.
“This required a big team of journalists working in four countries across three continents,” he said. “It was a very difficult story to pull together. It is rather to Britain’s discredit that in the end it turned out this story had to be reported from America and this sort of reporting was not possible in Britain.”
Along with Rusbridger, Wolfgang Buchner from Der Spiegel also received The Special Award for “their persistence and courage in publishing the NSA stories.” Here’s a full list of this year’s winners.
On Thursday, Politico’s Dylan Byers wrote about the chances and obstacles of The Guardian or The Washington Post to win a Pulitzer Prize for NSA reporting. Or it could be both? In February, Poynter spoke with Roy J. Harris Jr., author of “Pulitzer’s Gold: Behind the Prize for Public Service Journalism,” about the history of two news organizations sharing a Pulitzer.
It has only happened a few times, Harris said then.
“It’s unusual, but not unheard of…”