Four journalists who pulled back the curtain on the National Security Agency’s sprawling espionage operations and data mining activities will receive George Polk Awards for national security reporting, Long Island University, which awards the prizes, said Sunday.
They include The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras and The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, all of whom broke stories shining a light on the NSA’s efforts to capture millions of email and instant messaging contact lists, track cell phone calls and spy on allies. Their reports were based on top-secret documents disclosed by former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden and they set off an international debate about the value and risks of government surveillance in the digital age.
“In the tradition of George Polk, many of the journalists we have recognized did more than report news,” John Darnton, curator of the awards, said in a statement. “They heightened public awareness with perceptive detection and dogged pursuit of stories that otherwise would not have seen the light of day. Repercussions of the NSA stories in particular will be with us for years to come.”
Other honorees include The Record of Northern New Jersey’s Shawn Boburg for his reports on the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge the enmeshed Gov. Chris Christie in scandal; Miami New Times’ Tim Elfrink for revealing that Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, supplied performance enhancing drugs to baseball stars; and The New York Times’ Andrea Elliott for her five-part series on New York City’s 22,000 homeless children.
A committee of Long Island University faculty members, alumni and journalists selects the honorees and the awards will be presented on April 11 at a ceremony at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel.