Michael Kelly Award finalists named

Romenesko Misc.

They are Emily Bazelon (Slate); John Bowe (Mother Jones); Jonathan Katz (Associated Press); and Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff (Raleigh News & Observer). The $25,000 award was created in honor of Michael Kelly, who was killed while covering the Iraq war for the Atlantic in 2003. The winner will be announced on April 17. Links to the nominated stories are after the jump.


Slate, Mother Jones, Associated Press, and Raleigh News & Observer Writers Lauded for Pursuit of Truth in Journalism

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2011 - Celebrating the fearless pursuit and expression of truth in journalism, the Atlantic Media Company announces four finalists for the 8th annual Michael Kelly Award. The $25,000 award will be given at a ceremony at the company's Washington, D.C. headquarters on April 17. The award was created in honor of Michael Kelly, who was the editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic and National Journal, and was killed while covering the war in Iraq in 2003.

Chosen from a field of over 50 entries, the finalists for the 2011 Michael Kelly Award are:

Emily Bazelon, Slate. In "What Really Happened to Phoebe Prince?" Emily Bazelon of Slate shows that the journalism establishment and the legal system both erred in ascribing the suicide of a 15-year-old girl in South Hadley, Mass. to bullying by her high school classmates. The notion of a clique of students driving a classmate to her death was a compelling narrative, but it wasn't true. Bazelon's reporting makes clear that prosecuting Prince's classmates for what a troubled girl did to herself was an abuse of the law. Her meticulously reported account of Prince's final months is a model of challenging conventional wisdom and grappling with a complicated situation in a thoughtful and well-rounded way.

John Bowe, Mother Jones. A result of a two-year investigation, John Bowe's "Bound for America" exposed practices that amounted to human trafficking by a U.S. firm that recruited Thai farmers for agricultural jobs in the United States and charged them $10,000 to $20,000 apiece—plus interest—for job placement. After arriving here, the farmers worked only sporadically and didn't earn enough to even cover their loan payments. Five months after the publication of Bowe's story, which was supported by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, a federal grand jury indicted company officials for engaging in "a conspiracy to commit forced labor." The offices of the company, Global Horizons, are now closed.

Jonathan Katz, Associated Press. Jonathan M. Katz was the only foreign correspondent stationed in Haiti when a powerful earthquake hit on January 12, 2010. From that moment—when he borrowed a cell phone to call in the news even though his house had collapsed around him—Katz covered the earthquake and its aftermath with resourcefulness and determination. Over the course of the next year, his reporting on stalled recovery efforts triggered the resignation of a government official and his revelations linking a cholera outbreak to U.N. peacekeepers forced the United Nations to appoint an independent panel to investigate the matter. His coverage represents foreign correspondence at its best.

Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff, Raleigh 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 or cut corners to prove prosecutors' theories. Lab examiners flouted accepted scientific techniques and withheld evidence to help build cases for prosecutors. As a result of the series, top officials at the bureau have been fired or replaced and the SBI is rewriting its policies and 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.

Five judges comprised this year's Michael Kelly Award selection panel:

Sheri Fink, Reporter, ProPublica; Finalist, 2010 Michael Kelly Award

Charles Green, Executive Editor, National Journal

Cullen Murphy, Editor-at-Large, Vanity Fair

David Rohde, Reporter, New York Times; Winner, 2010 Michael Kelly Award

Stuart Taylor, Jr., Contributing Editor, National Journal

For additional information, including full entries and past winners, please visit http://www.kellyaward.com.

  • Jim Romenesko

    From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August of 1999, after seeing his MediaGossip.com, a hobby site he started in May of 1999.


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