NYT’s Rohde Wins 2010 Michael Kelly Award

rohde-AP04192010.jpgAtlantic Media Company, publisher of The Atlantic, National Journal and Government Executive, announced yesterday that The New York Times‘ David Rohde won the 2010 Michael Kelly Award for writing about his own seven-month captivity at the hands of the Taliban.

“David Rohde epitomizes fearlessness in the pursuit of truth. He put himself in harm’s way to learn more about the Taliban. He responded bravely to his capture and seven-month captivity. And he displayed moral courage in reliving his ordeal through an unflinching five-part series,” said National Journal editor and Michael Kelly Award judge Charles Green, in a statement.

The other finalists, announced in late March, were Sheri Fink of ProPublica, Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times and Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times.

The $25,000 Michael Kelly award honors “the fearless pursuit and expression of truth in journalism.” It is named after Michael Kelly, editor of The Atlantic and National Journal, who was killed while covering the Iraq war in 2003.

Rohde’s five-part series, “Held by the Taliban,” is available here.

Press release after the jump.


Washington, D.C. (April 19, 2010) — At a ceremony last evening at Atlantic Media’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, The New York Times’ David Rohde won the 7th annual Michael Kelly Award. The $25,000 award celebrates the fearless pursuit and expression of truth in journalism, and 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.

“David Rohde epitomizes fearlessness in the pursuit of truth. He put himself in harm’s way to learn more about the Taliban. He responded bravely to his capture and seven-month captivity. And he displayed moral courage in reliving his ordeal through an unflinching five-part series. Michael Kelly would have been the first to admire his work,” said Charles Green, editor of National Journal and a Michael Kelly Award judge.

Rohde was cited for a riveting five-part series in The New York Times, describing how he and two Afghan colleagues were kidnapped by the Taliban outside Kabul and held for seven months before he and one of his colleagues escaped on foot to a Pakistani military base. Rohde was initially reluctant to write about his experience, telling his editors, “I don’t want to make myself look like a hero. I am not a hero.” But he bravely used his captivity to illuminate the world about the minds of terrorists who repeatedly threatened to behead him and to provide insights into what Rohde termed a “Taliban mini-state” in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The other finalists for the 2010 Michael Kelly Award are Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, Sheri Fink, ProPublica and Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times.

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

Ken Armstrong, The Seattle Times

Siobhan Gorman, The Wall Street Journal

Charles Green, National Journal

Kathy Kiely, USA Today

Cullen Murphy, Vanity Fair

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

Atlantic Media Company is a Washington, D.C.-based publishing company whose flagship properties include The Atlantic, National Journal, and Government Executive.