Washington, D.C. (April 9, 2018)— Dionne Searcey is the winner of Atlantic Media’s 15th annual Michael Kelly Award for her reporting for The New York Times on the brutal Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria, abuses by the Nigerian military, and the human toll of the conflict. Searcey was awarded a prize of $25,000 last night at a ceremony in Washington.
Working where few Western journalists or diplomats dare to travel, Searcey has risked her life and defied local authorities to penetrate one of the world’s most secretive and confounding terrorist groups-- and to tell the stories of the people whose lives it has shattered along the way. In 2017, fearless reporting on the abuses of young women and girls at the hands of Nigerian security forces after escaping Boko Haram sparked an investigation by Nigerian lawmakers; while her wrenching interviews with teenagers forced to become suicide bombers for the group prompted Nigeria’s president to announce new initiatives to combat these crimes.
“Dionne Searcey’s coverage of the carnage caused by the terrorist group Boko Haram epitomizes the journalistic qualities honored by the Michael Kelly Award. Her courageous reporting and compelling writing stood out in a highly competitive field. From her post as West Africa bureau chief of The New York Times, Searcey consistently writes stories that would remain uncovered if not for her persistence, bravery, and compassion,” the judges said.