The cover of The Atlantic has always been a prime piece of real estate in the journalism of ideas. Several years ago, it turned into one of the most important spaces in serious coverage of religion.
That was, in large part, due to the influence of the late Michael Kelly. Religion news was one of many subjects touched by his fierce commitment to excellence and his legendary talents as an editor and reporter. It would be hard to list the groundbreaking stories that grew out of this commitment, but I think most religion-beat professionals would include "The Next Christianity" by Dr. Philip Jenkins in their Top 10 lists. Other suggestions?
Thus, it is with a bittersweet cheer that we note this announcement:
The Atlantic Media Company today announced a new annual $25,000 journalism award in honor of Michael Kelly, who died last April covering the war in Iraq. Kelly was editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic Monthly and National Journal, during his five-and-a-half-year tenure with the company.
Information about the Michael Kelly Award appears on a Web site launched today -- www.kellyaward.com. The award will recognize a journalist whose work exemplifies a quality that animated Mike Kelly's own career: the fearless expression and pursuit of truth.
As the Orthodox say: May his memory be eternal.
And may his tribe increase.