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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.