In Monday's announcement, the judges said the two organizations helped "through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy."
The award is likely to be highly controversial, since the reporting was based on documents leaked to the Guardian by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Speculation centered on how the judges would react to the contention by the Obama administration and many in Congress that Snowden's actions were criminal.
The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, the first journalists to report on the surveillance program, also became controversial figures for their role in publicizing Snowden's revelations, and the possibility of them winning had been hyped prior to the announcement.
On Friday, Greenwald and Poitras were awarded the George Polk award for their NSA reporting, along with their Guardian colleague Ewen MacAskill and the Washington Post's Barton Gellman. Greenwald and Poitras came to the United States for the first time since the reports were published to accept their award.