DeLong is part of the Post’s team that recently won a Pulitzer Prize, newspaper journalism’s highest award, for a series of stories that exposed the National Security Agency’s massive global surveillance programs.
So Matt, time to share.
What does it feel like to say “Pulitzer Prize Winner?
Well, I probably wouldn’t ever describe myself that way. I was one of 28 people in the newsroom who worked on the NSA coverage, and it truly was a team effort. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work on the year’s biggest story with such an immensely talented group of journalists.
What was your role?
I worked on the digital presentation for many of the stories. In many instances, I worked with Barton Gellman -- the reporter who received the NSA documents from Edward Snowden -- and security consultant Ashkan Soltani to put documents into a template that allowed us to highlight key portions and explain them for the average reader. Many of the documents were extremely dense and filled with government jargon, technical language and acronyms, so putting things into plain English was often a challenge. I also worked closely with people in the graphics and video departments to hone ideas before publication.
What was your most memorable story?
Apart from the NSA “Black Budget” story, which I and a small group of my colleagues worked on in secret (even within the newsroom) for many days before it published, probably my favorite story that I’ve ever reported was for my college newspaper, The Lumberjack, back in 2007, when a story I wrote resulted in the student-body election being ruled unconstitutional and re-ran. I started out looking into why there was such a tiny pool of candidates for numerous open student government positions ahead of the student body election, and I found that officials had violated the election code by failing to meet the minimum advertising requirements. As a result, the election was thrown out by the student body supreme court. The person who was ultimately elected president was not even on the ballot during the first election. It taught me the value of asking questions when something doesn’t seem right. You never know what you might find.
How does D.C. compare to Arizona?
It’s a totally different world. I really miss the West. I definitely don’t get out into the great outdoors as much as I used to when I lived in Flagstaff. I enjoy living and working here though. You meet all kinds of people who are incredibly smart and doing interesting things with their lives. I’m not really a Type-A personality like so many people in D.C. tend to be, so I always felt like I fit in more out West. I definitely plan to live there again someday.