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The results of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize awards announced Monday show the magnitude and importance of stories reported in the last year alone.
This years, The Guardian US and The Washington Post were both awarded the prize in the public service category for their work with uncovering the depth of the National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Much of their reporting centered around former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and leaked documents he provided to the media with the intention of informing the American population.
Snowden responded to the award yesterday, calling it “a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government.”
He gave credit to the media outlets that allowed his story to reach so many readers, saying, “My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society.”
Other big winners were The Boston Globe for its reporting on the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Reuters for reporting on a Muslim minority group in Burma and The Gazette in Colorado for reporting on how wounded combat veterans are mistreated.
The Pulitzer Prize is an annual reminder of the importance of journalism and its influence on societal knowledge of current events. Applicants can enter to win in any of the 21 categories, such as breaking news photography, explanatory reporting and feature writing.
While our government has an official system of checks and balances, the media often acts as an overseer of the government’s actions, keeping the population aware of what goes on behind closed doors.
The work done by journalists at The Guardian and The Washington Post is an example of how journalism helps to uncover stories such as the NSA leaks in an effort to keep the population informed.
The Pulitzer Prize helps to put journalism in the national spotlight, reminding citizens of the importance of a free press and staying informed not only on current events, but topics which governments and other organizations might not want to discuss openly.