Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian from 1995 to 2015, is the recipient of the 2014 Tully Award for Free Speech. The award, presented annually by the Tully Center for Free Speech in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is given to a journalist who has faced a significant free speech threat.
The award ceremony was held on Wednesday, October 1, in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. Rusbridger discussed his work at the Guardian, spoke about deciding to publish information provided to the Guardian by Edward Snowden, and answered audience questions.
In addition to being editor of the Guardian, Rusbridger was also editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media (GNM), a member of the GNM and Guardian Media Group (GMG) Boards and a member of The Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian and the Observer.
Rusbridger’s career began on the Cambridge Evening News, where he trained as a reporter before first joining the Guardian in 1979. He worked as a general reporter, feature writer and diary columnist.
As editor, Rusbridger oversaw the integration of the paper and digital operations, helping to build a website which today attracts visits from more than 100 million unique browsers a month. Now the world’s second largest serious newspaper website, it has regularly been voted the best newspaper website in the world.
During his editorship the paper has fought a number of high-profile battles over libel and press freedom, including cases involving Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken, the Police Federation, Trafigura, freedom of information and WikiLeaks. The paper’s coverage of phone hacking led to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and ethics.
In 2013 the paper broke the story of how Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency analyst, had turned whistleblower. Over several weeks the Guardian led the global coverage of the Snowden revelations, leading to changes in the law and numerous debates in the US Congress, the UK parliament, and legislatures around the world. Guardian US won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service and well as the Paul Foot award and the George Polk award for its coverage.
The paper was nominated newspaper of the year five times between 1996 and 2014. Rusbridger has been named editor of the year three times. In the past year he has won the Liberty Human Rights Award, the European Press Prize and the Ortega y Gasset award and has been honoured by CUNY, Columbia, Oslo and Syracuse Universities.
Born in Zambia, he graduated from Magdalene College Cambridge University with a degree in English in 1976. He was a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and is a visiting professor of history at Queen Mary’s College, London and Cardiff University. He has honorary doctorates from Lincoln, Oslo and Kingston Universities.