March 18, 2014 by newsgetting
Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief of The Guardian, has been honoured at the European Press Awards for leading the team which masterminded a series of remarkable disclosures from the files leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
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.”
He added: “One European paper, the Guardian, has played a leading role in the story. Its editor Alan Rusbridger has endured many months of difficulties at the hands of the government and its different agencies. He has fought to bring the facts to public attention and to do so in a way that is safe and decent, but also reveals the truth.”
The judges said that such continuing revelations obviously raised issues of great significance for concerned citizens across the world. “The reports called for the highest professional standards in factual scrutiny and calm judgment in considering the claims of national security that can never be ignored by a free press dependent on the rule of law,” they added. “We wish to recognise how well these editors rose to the occasion, with scrupulous professional diligence and courage and determination in resisting suppression.”
In his acceptance speech, Rusbridger said the UK government’s determination to suppress the story – which led to the Guardian having to destroy thousands of top secret files or face legal action – had dismayed journalists across Europe.
“They had always looked up to the UK as a place where all this was invented, this notion of a free press … people could not understand how this could have happened in this country.”
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.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Sir Harold Evans, the former editor of The Times and Sunday Times, said the EPP judges had been “dazzled” by the entries for this year’s awards. He said people would remain blind, ignorant and insensible without courageous journalism practiced by reporters, photographers and publishers.
The winners were; The Investigative Reporting award – Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati, for the “Assets of the Ayatollah”, published by Reuters, United Kingdom; the Distinguished Writing award – Sergey Khazov, for three pieces “Forbidden Islam”, “Vietnam town” and “A Man in Orange”, published by The New Times magazine, Russian Federation; the Commentator award – Boris Dežulović, “Vukovar: a Life-Size Monument to the Dead City”, published by Globus, Croatia; the Innovation Award – Espen Sandli and Linn Kongsli Hillestad, “Null CTRL”, published by Dagbladet, Norway.
Yavuz Baydar was also given a Special award for a series of articles he wrote on Turkey’s endangered freedom of the press – which resulted in him being fired.
By The Guardian