The Guardian Turns to the New York Times for Help

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 23 2013 2:28 PM

Why the Guardian Is Turning to the New York Times for Help With Its Snowden-Fueled Reporting

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In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images

The Guardian, which has been pretty much under siege from the British government lately, is bringing in some additional fire power to help with its reporting on the NSA's cooperation with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ. BuzzFeed's Ben Smith with the background and the scoop:

The Times’s Charlie Savage and other reporters have chased the NSA story aggressively, despite Snowden’s choice to go to fillmmaker Laura Poitras, the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, and Barton Gellman, who has written about the documents for the Washington Post. Snowden said he did not go to the Times because the paper bowed to Bush Administration demands to delay a story on warrantless wiretapping in the interest of national security; he was afraid, he said, the paper would do the same with his revelations.
Now, Times reporter Scott Shane is at work on a series of stories expected to be published next month jointly with the Guardian, a source familiar with the plans said. The source said the internal arrangement has also been the cause of some tension in the newsroom, as other national security reporters working on the NSA story — Savage and James Risen, among others — are not centrally involved in stories based on the Guardian’s documents.
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It's worth remembering that in the grand scheme of things the story of how the NSA story is being told isn't nearly as important as the previously secret surveillance programs being uncovered. Still, it's clear that the partnership will help the Guardian continue its dogged reporting in variety of ways, the most obvious of which are additional reporting manpower and a louder microphone from which to broadcast that reporting. But, as Smith notes, it also may make it more difficult for the British government to quash the Guardian's reporting given the Times, as a U.S.-based paper, is protected under the First Amendment.

The Times, however, appears unconvinced that the freedom-of-the-press protections will mean things will be easy for them. When reached for comment by Smith, the paper's executive editor, Jill Abramson, declined to comment. "My cellphone," she said, "is not a secure line."

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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