A Scottish reporter & internet privacy hero
BIOGRAPHY SUMMARYHave you seen Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about how Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s secret mass surveillance programs?
Then you might remember Ewen MacAskill.
Ewen MacAskill Overview ‧ read
If he didn’t strike you as much of a movie star, that’s ok. MacAskill is a political journalist with a storied career, and was one of the key figures in revealing the NSA’s terrible abuses of power to the world.
From editing The Scotsman in his home country, to a stint in Washington DC, to making history at The Guardian, this seasoned journalist has had quite the journey. Here’s our biography of Ewen MacAskill, with everything you wanted to know.
Climb every mountain
MacAskill was born in 1951 in Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow . The Glasgow of his childhood was in economic decline, as its shipbuilding yards closed down one by one. But MacAskill could still enjoy the countryside, as a member of the Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland. He was also an avid film fan, attending St Margaret's Film Club.
Despite the economic downturn, the city could still offer a first class education at the University of Glasgow, where MacAskill graduated with an MA in Modern History and Politics . His degree got MacAskill his first journalism gig at the Glasgow Herald newspaper , which he joined in 1974. He won ‘Scotland's Young Journalist of the Year’ the same year - the first of his many awards.
A globe-trotting reporter
By the late 1980s and 90s, MacAskill began to focus more on political reporting . He rejoined The Scotsman, where he was Political Editor for seven years (1989-1996). And his next move was to national UK newspaper, The Guardian - which is where he would make his biggest impact.
Moving up the ranks at The Guardian
MacAskill’s role in Snowden leak reporting
With his decades of international experience, MacAskill played a big role in breaking stories about mass surveillance by the US and UK governments. “I remember looking out the window of the hotel one night and thinking I'm one of the luckiest people in the world, looking over the harbour and being involved in what I thought was the big story of the week ,” said MacAskill . "But look at us now and we are still talking about it.”
MacAskill's Pulitzer Prize
He shared a 2013 George Polk Award with Greenwald and . “Many of the journalists we have recognized did more than report news,” said curator John Darnton . “They heightened public awareness with perceptive detection and dogged pursuit of stories.”
MacAskill’s newspaper, The Guardian, shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with the Washington Post. Pulitzer noted how The Guardian and MacAskill’s reporting had helped to “ spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.”
MacAskill played by Tom Wilkinson in Snowden film
The movie is set for release in May 2016.
A pro interested in truth, not glory
Clearly a man driven by desire to serve the public rather than personal ego , MacAskill is exactly the kind of journalist the world needs. When the next spying scandal blows up, we’ll be glad if its Ewen MacAskill who gets the scoop again.