Mike Kelly has been a journalist for more than three decades. He is the author of two books as well as numerous prize-winning newspaper projects and columns for the Bergen Record, a daily newspaper in northern New Jersey.
His assignments have taken him to Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel (including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), and Iraq. He has covered the 9/11 attacks and the clean-up of Ground Zero, the "Good Friday Peace Accords" in Belfast, the Iraq War in which he followed a National Guard unit from training to the combat zone, Hurricane Katrina (in New Orleans), the impeachment of President Clinton, and the 9/11 Commission hearings in Washington, D.C.
Since the 9/11 attacks, he has devoted much of his time to covering terrorism, from Ground Zero to Washington, D.C. (with the 9-11 Commission) to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (to write about the terrorist detention prisons) and to Malaysia. In traveling to Malaysia, Kelly traced the recycling journey of a single steel beam from the World Trade Center. He then tracked down the people on the trade center floor supported by that steel beam and traced how they were rebuilding their lives. While in Malaysia, he also found the apartment where the 9-11 plot was first planned. Later, in New Jersey, he found the tiny motel room where two of the hijackers at that Malaysia meeting ended up staying before carrying out the plot. In 2011, for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Kelly found the survivors form the 70th floor that he had profiled a decade earlier and updated their lives.
Kelly was named the top columnist in America in 2004 and in 2011 by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. In 2001, the New Jersey Press Association named him "Journalist of the Year" for his reporting from the Middle East and from Ground Zero. Other major honors include New York Deadline Club prize for column writing, the Meyer Berger Award from Columbia University, and a national Clarion Award for feature writing. He was also among twenty-five New York area journalists singled out by the New York City Fire Department for a special honor for his coverage from the site of the World Trade Center.