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Pell Center announces ‘Story of the Year’

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Disclosure of the National Security Agency’s massive digital spying operation today was named the 2013 “Story of the Year” by the Pell Center at Salve Regina University’s Story in the Public Square program.

This year marks the first time the Pell Center has designated the award for that one narrative -- or story -- from the calendar year that most significantly affected American public dialogue and policy. The award is part of Story in the Public Square—an on-going project to study and celebrate the power of narrative storytelling in public affairs.

A short video discussing the 2013 Story of the Year can be viewed at the Story in the Public Square website,

The NSA story broke in June when newspapers began publishing stories based on up to 200,000 documents stolen by Edward Snowden, a former contractor to the agency.

“The revelations led to denials, confirmations, congressional hearings, proposed legislation, international backlash – and growing public unease that contemporary America had taken on an Orwellian mask,” said Jim Ludes, Pell Center executive director.

“For their part, the president, the NSA and others defended the surveillance programs as authorized by congress, reviewed by the courts, and deemed necessary by the commander-in-chief for security in the post-9/11 world,” he continued.

“As 2013 draws to a close, the story is still unfolding and the debate is really just beginning,” said G. Wayne Miller, Pell Center Visiting Fellow and Story in the Public Square director. “Americans are questioning their government – and pondering anew the meaning of privacy in the digital age. America’s allies are asking questions, too. And you can be sure that America’s adversaries are changing the way they operate as well.”

The Pell Center Story of the Year will be announced each December. Ludes and Miller noted a strong field for 2013, including the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the federal shutdown, the continuing impasse on immigration reform, the agreements on Syrian chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program, and even the election of Pope Francis.

The public is invited to join the discussion on the Facebook forum, also available through

Story in the Public Square is a Pell Center initiative, in partnership with The Providence Journal, to study and celebrate public storytelling in American politics and culture. For more information, visit

The Pell Center at Salve Regina University is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas. Dedicated to honoring the legacy of former Senator Claiborne Pell, the center promotes American engagement in the world, effective government at home and civic participation by all Americans. Research and events programs at the Pell Center are designed to contribute understanding of contemporary local, national, and global issues to the widest possible audiences. For more information, visit