Recently, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden reached out to litigator-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald — a columnist for The Guardian — in order to disclose information regarding NSA programs. . However, in reporting the leak on their website and on Twitter, The New York Times slighted both Greenwald and The Guardian, referring to Greenwald as a “blogger” and the Guardian as a “British news site.” This choice of language was a disappointing display of pettiness by the Times — coming off as an attempt to belittle the work of a competitor reporting a major story. Though heavy competition is understandable in the dying world of print journalism, respected newspapers can’t discredit one another because of losing a news scoop — they must continue to put forth the best possible journalism, even if that means letting another paper take credit.

Though Greenwald began his writing career as a blogger, he has since written columns and essays for both Salon and The Guardian for several years. Furthermore, he worked as an attorney dealing in civil rights and liberties for over a decade. He is the author of three books and is one of the most sought-after speakers and writers on national security and privacy issues. The Times could have chosen to convey any of this information about Greenwald, but instead classified him purely as a “blogger” — a title that for better or worse implies a far lower level of prestige than is appropriate. The use of the phrase “British news site” comes nowhere near a proper description for The Guardian. Founded in 1821, the news outlet has won many awards for both individual journalists and the newspaper as a whole while maintaining a reputation as one of Britain’s most well-regarded newspapers.

As one of the most highly respected and well-known newspapers in the world, it’s especially disappointing to see this level of pettiness from the Times. The information released by Snowden has transformed into one of the most important news stories in a decade. All journalists should be interested in uncovering the truth about exactly what the NSA has been involved in, as well as in investigating Snowden’s credibility and uncovering information concerning surveillance. Instead, the Times moved toward further fighting between newspapers. A newspaper’s need to stay on top and report groundbreaking stories is an understandable concern in today’s day and age as they face increasing pressure from new media. However, the possibility of gaining readers from a competitor means nothing if journalistic integrity is sacrificed and fellow reporters are thrown under the bus.

Last week, Rep. Peter King (R–N.Y.) called for Greenwald’s arrest due to his reporting. Even before that, the AP reported that the Department of Justice had seized call records from a number of its reporters and editors. In a time when the government is often at odds with the stories that journalists report, newspapers must not make it more difficult for each other to pursue truth and hold the government accountable. If they resort to such seemingly dirty tactics as the Times did, they will do nothing more but discredit themselves and help those they should be investigating.

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