The Washington Post and The Guardian US won the Pulitzer Prize in public service yesterday for revealing the U.S. government's sweeping surveillance efforts in stories based on thousands of secret documents handed over by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The Pulitzer for breaking news was awarded to The Boston Globe for its "exhaustive and empathetic" coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt that followed.
Newsday was named a finalist in the public service category. The Pulitzer jurors cited Newsday "for its use of in-depth reporting and digital tools to expose shootings, beatings and other concealed misconduct by some Long Island police officers, leading to the formation of a grand jury and an official review of police accountability."
The awards are American journalism's highest honor.
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The winning entries about the NSA's spy programs showed the government has collected information about millions of Americans' phone calls and emails based on its interpretation of laws passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The disclosures touched off a furious debate in the United States over privacy versus security and led President Barack Obama to impose limits on the surveillance.
The stories were written by Barton Gellman at The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill of The Guardian. The British newspaper has an American website.
"I think this is amazing news," Poitras said in New York. "It's a testament to Snowden's courage, a vindication of his courage and his desire to let the public know what the government is doing."
At the Globe, staff members said the announcement of the award -- coming just a day before the anniversary of the bombing -- was met with a moment of silence in the newsroom for the victims. The attack last April 15 killed three people and wounded more than 260 people.
The New York Times won two Pulitzers in photography: Tyler Hicks was honored in the breaking news category for documenting the Westgate mall terrorist attack in Kenya, and Josh Haner was cited for his essay on a Boston Marathon blast victim who lost his legs.
The Center for Public Integrity's Chris Hamby won the award for investigative reporting for his reporting on how some lawyers and doctors rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease.
The Pulitzer for explanatory reporting was given to The Washington Post's Eli Saslow for reporting on the prevalence of food stamps in America.
The prize for national reporting was awarded to David Philipps of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo., for an investigation that found that the Army has discharged escalating numbers of traumatized combat veterans who commit crimes at home.
The award for general nonfiction went to Dan Fagin for "Toms River," an acclaimed chronicle of industrial destruction in a small New Jersey community. Fagin is a former Newsday reporter.