The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service on Monday for their series of reports on the US government's surveillance programs based on leaks by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
The Pulitzer Prize is the highest accolade in US journalism, and the award to these two prominent Western media outlets shows the West's appreciation of the reports as well as a testament to Snowden's courage to reveal the abuse of power by the world's most powerful state.
The media's disclosure included the NSA's collection of phone records of millions of Americans, the agency's Prism program stealing data from nine giant Internet companies including Google and Facebook. It was also revealed the NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
After these exposures, the world, including Washington's allies, pointed their fingers at its actions. The French government castigated the US for carrying out electronic eavesdropping within France, which shows how the revelation has strained relations between Western allies.
Meanwhile, the world backlash toward US spying actions indicates their support for Snowden who dared to challenge the US as a rule-maker and confront its soft power as a superpower. This is why he topped the list of Foreign Policy journal's list of Global Thinkers for 2013 in December.
The Guardian, the Washington Post and Foreign Policy, viewed as mainstream media in the West, have all applauded Snowden who was denounced as a "traitor" by the US government, is wanted by US law enforcement authorities and faces charges in federal court.
It is worth noting that critics in the West have believed the newspapers are "Snowden enablers" and the prize a "disgrace" as Snowden "violated his oath" and "put American lives at risk." Liam Fox, former British secretary of state for defense and a current member of Parliament, described Snowden as "a self-publicizing narcissist."
Snowden will long be a headache for the US government given the divided opinion over him in the US-led West. The personal fate of Snowden reflects the contention between the US hegemony and the world's pursuit of fairness and justice.
The US is still the world's biggest power admittedly. But in an era when the Internet can get you everywhere and expose everything, the US should not put its own security interests and values above the world's interests and diversity of global values.