Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2017)— Shane Bauer is the winner of Atlantic Media’s 2017 Michael Kelly Award for reporting for Mother Jones on life inside a medium-security private prison in Louisiana where he served as a correctional officer for four months. The award was announced at a ceremony in Washington last night.
Determined to chronicle the everyday realities inside a private prison, Bauer applied for a job as a $9-an-hour prison guard using his own name and work history. His resulting piece, “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard,” depicted a facility barely able to function under the cost-cutting pressures from the nation’s second largest prison company. As he struggled to maintain his humanity in a setting where physical and emotional assault was all too commonplace, Bauer’s reporting revealed how insufficient staffing increased danger for guards and prisoners alike.
“Shane Bauer provided a public service by giving readers an unvarnished look inside a corporate-run prison. Michael Kelly would have greatly admired his determination and courage in reporting this important story,” the judges said.
Given annually, the $25,000 Michael Kelly Award honors journalists whose work exemplifies the fearless pursuit and expression of truth, qualities that defined Michael Kelly’s own career. Kelly, who served as editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic and National Journal, was the first journalist killed while covering the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.
Five judges selected the finalists and the winner: Susan Davis, a congressional reporter with NPR; Charles Green, former editor of National Journal; Susan Mercandetti, editor-at-large at Random House; Cullen Murphy, editor-at-large of Vanity Fair; and Michael Phillips, a staff reporter with The Wall Street Journal and past finalist for the Michael Kelly Award.
Journalists with three other news organizations were recognized at the awards ceremony as finalists: Hannah Dreier of the Associated Press for her coverage of the impact of the economic crisis in Venezuela on residents struggling to find food and health care; David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post for a series of investigative pieces on Donald Trump’s deceptive charitable activities; and Selam Gebrekidan, Stephen Grey, and Amina Ismail of Reuters for a series of stories on the smuggling networks that profit from the transport of refugees from Africa and the Middle East to Europe.
Based in Washington, D.C., and New York City, Atlantic Media’s portfolio includes The Atlantic, CityLab, Quartz, National Journal Group, Government Executive, and Defense One. Atlantic Media publications and journalists are ineligible for the Michael Kelly Award.
Additional information about the Michael Kelly Award can be found at www.kellyaward.com.
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