Gellman: Baron’s editing ‘made me feel like it was still The Washington Post I’d grown up with’

Bart Gellman is by no means done with reporting on the NSA. His stories for The Washington Post won a Public Service Pulitzer today, a prize he and collaborators, including Ashkan Soltani and Laura Poitras, shared with The Guardian for their reporting on Edward Snowden’s revelations. “Look, there are more great stories to do, and I have a book to write, so I will be on this subject for time to come,” Gellman said by phone.

Gellman speaks to The Washington Post newsroom after the Pulitzer announcement Monday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Gellman speaks to The Washington Post newsroom after the Pulitzer announcement Monday.

Asked whether he’d changed his methodology in the course of reporting these stories, Gellman said “I’ve had to become much more careful to protect my reporting materials and my confidential sources.” Whereas he used to worry about keeping stuff only from the U.S. government, “Now I have to worry about foreign intelligence services.”

Gellman said he’s “even more conscious than I was before about putting sources at risk.” At times, he’s worried about asking even “fairly innocent questions” he feared might put sources under scrutiny. “There are times I don’t make the call or don’t make the visit I want to make” because of such concerns, he said.

Post Executive Editor Marty Baron “did not know me from Adam when I came to him with a really high risk” story, Gellman said, saying he’s “genuinely, no bullshit, immensely grateful to this paper and its leadership.” Baron “made every decision with guts and good judgment,” he said. “It made me feel like it was still The Washington Post I’d grown up with.”

“We are enormously grateful that Bart Gellman brought this story to the Post, where he had worked for so many years,” Baron said in an email to Poynter. “His experience and expertise in the realm of national security and intelligence are unequaled. That allowed him to navigate some especially sensitive and difficult terrain. Throughout this story, he showed persistence, great care, and no small measure of wisdom.”

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