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Tensions Rise When Editorials, News Clash

Sep 30, 2016

It’s been about three years since Edward Snowden became a household name, when the National Security Agency contractor leaked 1.5 million classified documents to journalists and news organizations.

Among the revelations, the NSA was monitoring American citizens via emails, videos and texts. A new motion picture from director Oliver Stone is dramatizing Snowden’s actions – including his move to Russia to avoid prosecution.

The drama over Edward Snowden’s case continues off screen too, thanks in part to a recent editorial urging Snowden to return to the United States to face prosecution in the Washington Post.  That’s the same newspaper that won a Pulitizer Prize for reporting on the documents Snowden provided to them.

At first glance, this move looks pretty hypocritical, but Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said that the paper’s editorial board operates completely separate of the journalists in the newsroom. Many people don’t realize the newsroom and editorial boards operate separately, she said.

And this move by the Post’s editorial board likely also created some tension within the newspaper building.

“If I were a reporter in this newsroom, I would be really angry that my editorial board published an editorial that is against the kind of work that I am trying to do,” McBride said.