Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Welles and WERT Prizes
The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia Journalism School announced today that reporters from Ghana Business News and The Wall Street Journal have won the 2022 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize and that the WERT Prize for Outstanding Global Business Reporting by a female journalist has been awarded to a reporter for Bloomberg News.
The prizes will be presented tonight at the Knight-Bagehot 47th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.
Two reporters, both from the Knight-Bagehot Class of 2013-2014, were singled out for this year’s Welles Prize: Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, the managing editor of Ghana Business News, and Jeff Horwitz, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal.
Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, who launched Ghana Business News in 2008, was cited for his series of stories on financial corruption in Ghana and exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
"Those stories are complicated, deep and difficult to pull off,” said one judge. “Going through a cache of financial documents and making sense of them is really tough. And Emmanuel is doing it under difficult circumstances, on a shoestring.”
Another judge praised Dogbevi’s "passion, resourcefulness and commitment" and noted that "several of our contestants can rely on well-funded organizations and all that comes with being part of a powerful media entity, like access, protection and publicity. This work stands alone for achieving impact under much tougher circumstances."
Jeff Horwitz was awarded the Welles for his reporting on “The Facebook Files,” a series that dove into internal documents to reveal the company’s own research and awareness of the harms and dangers of its platform.
The series “exposed the harm done by the company on a global scale,” said one judge. “Jeff found a whistleblower who helped provide the backbone of his explosive reporting and then drew world-wide attention when Congress held hearings based on her statements and Jeff's reporting.”
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.
Olivia Carville, an investigative reporter at Bloomberg, won the WERT Prize for "Airbnb's Nightmare," and follow-ups that unveiled how Airbnb's elite trust-and-safety team works to keep crime and safety violations at Airbnb properties out of the news.
"This deep dive into the company's strategy with details about the trust-and-safety team — a team I was unaware of until reading the story — was an eye-opening look at the challenges facing the company and the lengths it goes to limit the fallout," wrote one judge.
The story highlights how much is at stake for a company whose mission is based on strangers trusting strangers and is notable not only for its reporting and storytelling but also for its impact. Airbnb revised its terms of service to allow sexual assault survivors to sue the company in court rather than go through arbitration. Expedia and TripAdvisor updated their safety policies, and short-term rental platforms agreed to share information on dangerous listings to better protect users.
The WERT Prize honors excellence in comprehensively reported business journalism by a woman that fosters a greater understanding of global business. It was established in 2018 and is funded by a bequest from 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, Africa Editor, Semafor; Jessica Liebman, Chief People Officer, Insider; and Kimi Yoshino, Editor in Chief, The Baltimore Banner.
“The work by this year’s prize winners highlights how critical business journalism is to holding institutions accountable,” said Robert Smith, director of the Knight-Bagehot program. “From examining financial documents, business practices and policies to documenting the impact of those practices and policies, business journalists are doing important work around the globe. We are pleased to honor and recognize the exemplary efforts of Emmanuel, Jeff and Olivia.”
About the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship
The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship offers experienced journalists the opportunity to enhance their understanding and knowledge of business, economics, finance and technology and gain a deep understanding of the business of journalism through a full-time program administered by 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 its doors in 1912. It offers a Master of Science, Master of Arts, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and 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, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. In addition to the Pulitzer Prizes, the school 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, the Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, and the Mike Berger Award.