AP’s Rukmini Callimachi won both the Hal Boyle and Bob Considine awards for her reporting on a trove of al-Qaida documents uncovered in Mali. She is the first reporter ever to win both awards in the same year.
Callimachi captured the chaotic aftermath of the takeover of Timbuktu by al-Qaida fighters. The thousands of pages of documents she found strewn in 10 buildings, formerly occupied by the fighters, led her on a painstaking journey of verification, and it resulted in stories that painted a fascinating portrait of al-Qaida’s presence in Africa. Her work —courageous, resourceful, persistent and sensitive—resonated with the authority of a reporter who understood the people and history of Timbuktu. In particular, she vividly captured what came in the wake of al-Qaida’s departure—a brutal, opportunistic mission by Mali’s military to target light-skinned Arabs and Tuaregs who looked like the vanquished invaders. She documented the efforts of family members to find the remains of the victims, and her elegant first-person piece was a model of the form, reported without fear and written with restraint.