Snowden made the world less naive: reporters

Pulitzer-winning journalists who helped tell his story say it reshaped how we see official spying
Visiting Hong Kong nearly 18 months after former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden hid out in the city after leaking information about government spying, two reporters who won Pulitzer prizes for helping identify him and tell his story said his revelations had made the world shed its naivete.
Speaking yesterday to an audience of mostly journalism students, they joined five other Pulitzer winners in a discussion at Baptist University about how the public’s right to know measured up against the importance of national security.

“Last year I think the news was the [US National Security Agency] surveillance itself. I think going forward the story to some extent is how different countries deal with that, and how it affects the way the United States relates with other countries,” said Anne Kornblut, who led The Washington Post’s Pulitzer-winning coverage as a senior editor. She is now deputy national editor.

Snowden released his information to reporters at The Post and The Guardian before revealing himself.

Ewen MacAskill, chief political reporter at The Guardian, flew to Hong Kong in June last year to meet Snowden along with reporter Glenn Greenwald and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. In a globally significant scoop, the team put a face to the previously anonymous leaks.

MacAskill, now the paper’s defence correspondent, said he had no idea what was to come.
“At the time it was just another assignment to me. We didn’t know it would be such a big story,” he said. “We thought it would only last a month or so.”

MacAskill said he did not doubt that “the story has sparked a change. People are less na?ve”. He said he had had no idea of the extent of mass surveillance but was now “completely paranoid”.
However, he said: “I understand why agencies need intelligence ... It’s necessary for fighting terrorism, paedophiles, international gangs”.

The problem is that democratic systems “haven’t kept pace with technology,” which has developed rapidly over the past 20 years, MacAskill said. “There’s no proper oversight by lawmakers and the judicial system.”
The 6th Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop will continue at Baptist University until Saturday. The event includes public lectures by MacAskill, Kornblut and five other prize-winning journalists.