The fearless pursuit & expression of truth

The Michael Kelly Award honors a writer or editor whose work
exemplifies the quality that animated Michael Kelly’s career.

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2014 Winner: Rukmini Callimachi

The Associated Press

As the West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press, Rukmini Callimachi consistently displayed a passion for the truth, reportorial ingenuity, and a commitment to the highest standards of journalism. At great risk to her own safety, Callimachi discovered a large trove of internal documents from al-Qaida that illuminated the internal workings of the terrorist organization and its strategy for the region. Reporting from Mali—again at great personal risk–she tracked down the bodies of six victims shot by the military, forcing the Malian government to initiate an investigation.

2014 Michael Kelly Award Finalists

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Matthieu Aikins

Rolling Stone

Aikins investigated allegations of unlawful killings of civilians by an Army unit in Afghanistan.

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Dave Philipps

Colorado Springs Gazette

Philipps chronicled how the Army was discharging soldiers rather than provide them needed medical treatment.

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Megan Twohey


Twohey revealed how parents of adopted children were sending them to live with strangers they met online.

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Past Michael Kelly Award Winners

2013 Winner

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Brian Mockenhaupt

A former infantryman in Iraq, Brian Mockenhaupt wanted to write about what happens when someone in the military has to assume his dead boss’s job, and those under him have to adjust to new leadership during the most stressful time of their lives. It’s a situation unfathomable to most of the civilian world, but one the military takes for granted. Mockenhaupt’s reporting stretched over 18 months, taking him from a platoon in Afghanistan that went on daily—and deadly—foot patrols in Afghanistan to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where Marines from the platoon struggled to reintegrate into the world they had left behind.

2012 Winner

Sarah Stillman

Sarah Stillman

The New Yorker

In “The Invisible Army,” Sarah Stillman tells the story of ten Fijian beauticians who were recruited for lucrative jobs in a posh Dubai salon, only to end up in Iraq giving manicures and massages to U.S. soldiers. “Through their mistreatment, Stillman exposes the larger scandal of thousands of foreign workers on U.S. military bases reduced to something like indentured servitude,” said the Kelly Award judges in a statement. “Working as a freelance reporter without a contract, Stillman spent more than a year reporting the story, traveling to four countries, six military bases, and two war zones.”

2011 Winner

Mandy Locke, Joseph Neff

Mandy Locke & Joseph Neff

The News & Observer

In their four-part series, “Agents’ Secrets,” Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff exposed widespread misconduct at the State Bureau of Investigation in North Carolina. Agents fabricated stories to prove prosecutors’ theories. Lab examiners flouted scientific techniques and withheld evidence to help build cases for prosecutors. As a result of the series, top officials at the bureau have been replaced and the SBI is rewriting its procedures. The series was an example of the News & Observer’s exemplary criminal-justice reporting over the past several years—reporting that helped free a death row inmate and trigger the establishment of the nation’s first Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Nominate a journalist who exemplifies the fearless pursuit and expression of truth Enter Online