The fearless pursuit and expression of truth

The Michael Kelly Award honors a writer or editor whose work exemplifies the qualities that animated Michael Kelly’s life and career.

2022 Winner: Ian Urbina, The New Yorker and The Outlaw Ocean Project
Few, if any, reporters have done more to expose the dangers faced by African migrants on their way to European shores than Ian Urbina, a 2016 finalist for the Michael Kelly Award. “The Invisible Wall,” published by The New Yorker in partnership with The Outlaw Ocean Project, is his latest installment in this subject and a tour de force. Urbina was spurred by a brief Doctors Without Borders press release to investigate the circumstances of a nameless migrant’s death in a Libyan detention center. An anonymous data point became a 28 year-old Bissau-Guinean called Aliou Candé, a name now known to all who care to read. In the face of grave danger—he was shadowed by “security guards,” intercepted by police during an interview, kidnapped by intelligence agents, and more—Urbina responded with steadfast conviction and sheer moxie. The Libyan prisons where people like Candé are detained form part of a deliberate E.U. policy to “offshore” responsibility for migrants. Urbina’s account was referenced in the media and government institutions around the world, prompting a request for an investigation by the International Criminal Court. His reporting upholds the “fearless pursuit and expression of truth” that characterized Michael Kelly’s own work.