Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize and WERT Prize for Outstanding Global Business Journalism by a Female Journalist | Columbia Journalism School
Natalie Obiko Pearson and Dana Mattioli headshots
Natalie Obiko Pearson (l) and Dana Mattioli (r)

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize and WERT Prize for Outstanding Global Business Journalism by a Female Journalist

The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia Journalism School announced today that reporters from Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal respectively, won the 2021 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize and WERT Prize for Outstanding Global Business Reporting by a female journalist. 

Both awards were presented at the Knight-Bagehot 46th Anniversary Celebration and Virtual Gala. 

Natalie Obiko Pearson, ‘09 Knight-Bagehot, a senior reporter and Vancouver bureau chief for Bloomberg News, has been awarded the 2021 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize for her outstanding stories that covered a wide range of topics, including race, technology and philanthropy. Pearson examined the spike in anti-Asian hate crime and its link to the economics of the housing market, looked at how China’s Huawei gained its foothold in the race for 5G technology and chronicled the dramatic rise and fall of a major global charity.

Pearson’s reporting drew on the skills learned during her fellowship, particularly in corporate finance and accounting classes, and highlights the lasting impact of the program. One judge said her story on how a charity had failed on multiple levels over the years read like a financial thriller. “Her reporting made business stories come alive through telling details, polished style and dogged investigations,” said the judge. 

The Welles Prize honors the memory of Christopher J. Welles, a former director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship who was considered a top business writer from the 1960s to the 1980s for his penetrating accounts of malfeasance, corruption and corporate collapses. It is given annually to a graduate of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship. 

Dana Mattioli, a technology reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has won the 2021 WERT Prize for her story, “How Amazon Wins: By Steamrolling Rivals and Partners,” which chronicles how the company uses data and inside information to replicate the products of competitors and then undersell them. As juror Kimi Yoshino said, “the strength of the story is in the level of detail and in each deeply reported example.”

The WERT Prize honors excellence in comprehensively reported business journalism by a woman that fosters a greater understanding of global business. The WERT Prize was established in 2018 and is funded by a bequest made by the Women’s Economic Round Table and support from the Muriel F. Siebert Foundation and the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Knight-Bagehot alumni participating in the Welles Prize selection included Quentin Hardy (‘95), Head of Editorial, Google Cloud; Robert Smith (‘19), Director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship; and Columbia Journalism School Adjunct Faculty Member Leslie Wayne (’80).

The WERT Prize committee members included Yinka Adegoke, Director for Strategic Initiatives, Rest of World; Jessica Liebman, Global Managing Editor, Insider; and Kimi Yoshino, Managing Editor, Los Angeles Times.

"We are pleased to recognize the exemplary work of Natalie and Dana," said Robert Smith, director of the Knight-Bagehot program. "Their reporting illustrates the importance of journalists with the economic, business and tech skills to dig deep and tell stories that hold institutions of all sizes accountable." 

The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship offers experienced journalists the opportunity to enhance their understanding and knowledge of business, economics, finance and technology, as well as gain a strong understanding of the business of journalism itself, in a full-time program administered by the Columbia Journalism School. The fellowship is named for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, which established an endowment for the program, and Walter Bagehot, the 19th­-century editor of The Economist. 

About Columbia Journalism School
For more than a century, the Columbia Journalism School has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened in 1912 and offers Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It houses the Columbia Journalism Review, the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, The Simon and June Li Center for Global Journalism, the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school also administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, the Maria Moors Cabot Prizes, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the Mike Berger Awards and the WERT Prize for Women Business Journalists.