Nakashima began her journalism career at The Hartford Courant and The Quincy Patriot Ledger, before joining The Washington Post as a reporter in 1995. She has since served as South-East Asia correspondent and a White House reporter until she started covering national security in 2014.
Nakashima has won a series of awards and investitures for her work at The Post. In 2014, she won the Gerald Loeb Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, while in 2017, she was named Alumna of the Year by the Daily Californian Alumni Association.
- "Ellen Nakashima, The Washington Post".
- PR, WashPost (2018-04-16). "The Washington Post wins 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting and for National Reporting".
- "Ellen Nakashima, PBS Washington Week".
- "Staffs of The New York Times and The Washington Post". www.pulitzer.org. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
- "2017 Alumna of the Year: Ellen Nakashima - The Daily Californian Education Foundation". Retrieved 2019-02-19.