The only thing more boring to report on than an awards show where the winners are announced ahead of time is a town council meeting. You know what’s going to happen, you know when it’s going to happen and you know exactly who the players are and what they’ve done to snag a spot in next week’s minutes.
But that’s not this reporter’s assignment. New York Magazine sent Andrew Rice to the Roosevelt Hotel ballroom to be a fly on the wall at the James Polk Awards, which highlight the year’s best investigative journalism. Naturally, that would feature those who leaked Edward Snowden’s infamous NSA documents. The hitch: Two of them, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, haven’t set foot in the United States since the story broke for fear of detainment.
When word came this week that the pair would brave the flight (not to mention those awkward stare-downs at customs), the media realm started buzzing. Word came that they were in transit; we bit our lips and crossed our fingers. Word came that they’d made it through airport security safely; we (collectively—I wasn’t in the ballroom, after all) applauded.
Rice captured the feeling in the room when we all finally exhaled. And he did it nonchalantly. His article isn’t effusive or inflated. It is very much what happened, down to the acid-washed jeans Greenwald wore to accept the prize.
Line I love: “Within the ballroom, the two sides of this media war held a polite truce.”