The Guardian's coverage of the secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks has won it recognition as Britain's “Newspaper of the Year'' at the prestigious 2011 Press Awards given on Tuesday.
Judges described it as “an enormous story with reverberations around the world'' and said it put “the Guardian at the top of the news headlines and some say it will change relationships between governments and the press and public forever”.
Alan Rusbridger, Guardian's editor-in-chief, highlighting its global impact, said: “It's far too early to say what effect the story had on events in the Middle East [West Asia] and north Africa but I would guess it would have had some effect”.
Alluding to the attempts in America to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Mr. Rusbridger said he hoped the White House would think carefully about its approach. He also appealed to the U.S. to be appropriate in its treatment of Bradley Manning, the young American soldier accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. Mr. Manning, who was arrested in May last year, is being held in solitary confinement in a military prison amid allegations of ill-treatment, including mental torture.
The publication of thousands of secret cables, including a cache of “India cables'' by The Hindu, revealing controversial aspects of American foreign policy, has embarrassed the U.S. administration and its friends abroad. In New Delhi, there have been many red faces both in government and the Opposition following WikiLeaks revelations in The Hindu. The 5,000-odd cables, running into some six million words, provide an extraordinary glimpse of the Indian Establishment's often controversially cosy relationship with Washington. In an interview to NDTV, Mr. Assange praised The Hindu's coverage saying he had chosen to work with it “because we have seen its good work in the past''.
The Guardian was one of the world's four leading newspapers, besides the New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel, that originally collaborated with WikiLeaks to publish the cables. That partnership has fractured somewhat in recent months and Mr. Assange is now keen to work with new partners.