Sarah Stillman Wins Michael Kelly Award

Freelancer and visiting scholar at NYU Sarah Stillman is this year’s recipient of the Michael Kelly Award for her story, published in The New Yorker, on the mistreatment of foreign contract workers at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. David Bradley, chairman of Atlantic Media Company, announced the news today. Read the story here.

The judges also recognized four journalists from other organizations as finalists: Rukmini Callimachi of the AP, Kathy Dobie of Harper’s, and A.M. Sheehan and Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Advertiser Democrat (Norway, Maine). The winners and finalists were honored at a dinner last night in Washington at Atlantic Media Company headquarters.

The $25,000 award is given annually to a journalist whose work exemplifies a quality that animated Michael Kelly’s career: “the fearless pursuit and expression of truth.” Kelly, who was the editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic and National Journal, was killed while covering the war in Iraq in 2003.

In “The Invisible Army,” Stillman tells the story of 10 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.”