Emmanuel K. Dogbevi has been awarded the Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize for his excellent reporting for Ghana Business News. The Prize is awarded annually for an outstanding business story or series by an alumnus of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University.
The Prize has been instituted in the memory of Christopher J. Welles, a former director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship. Welles was also a leading business writer from the 1960s to the 1980s, and he was known for his penetrating accounts of corporate abuse and misbehavior.
Dogbevi, who launched Ghana Business News in 2008, was cited for his stories on financial corruption in Ghana and exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
“Those stories are complicated, deep and difficult to pull off,” wrote 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.”
Dogbevi, who is also the Executive Director of the not-for-profit media organisation, NewsBridge Africa, and has been working as a journalist for 32 years, trains and mentors journalists across Africa.
Praising Dogbevi’s “passion, resourcefulness and commitment” another judge 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.”
“We are proud of how Emmanuel has used the skills he gained through the Knight-Bagehot programme in his relentless reporting on corruption in Ghana,” said Robert Smith, director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship.
“Emmanuel Dogbevi’s reporting spans a wide range, and he does it on his own without the benefit of an institutional infrastructure. His commitment to finding the truth stayed strong even in the face of personal setbacks, including a 2020 office fire that destroyed his archives and equipment. His work stands as a model for the profession,” he added.
On November 5, 2020, a fire swept through the Cathedral Clinic building housing the offices of Ghana Business News. The entire building was razed down, and with it all the equipment and materials for work, including laptops, scanners, printers, books, archives, recorders and camera accessories.
The email announcing the award says “Your stories uphold the spirit of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship and demonstrate its lasting impact. We’re pleased to recognize them through this award.”
Horwitz was awarded the Welles Prize 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,” wrote 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.”
“We have decided to issue two awards this year. You have both done such important work under different circumstances, and we wanted to acknowledge your respective accomplishments,” the organisers said.
Dogbevi has continued to work against all odds to consistently do remarkable journalism. With very little and sometimes, no resources, he has remained a perceptive, courageous and dedicated journalist in a country where business journalism in the real sense of the word is non-existent.
Emmanuel Dogbevi’s reporting spans a wide range, and he does it on his own without the benefit of an institutional infrastructure. His commitment to finding the truth stayed strong even in the face of personal setbacks, including a 2020 office fire that destroyed his archives and equipment. His work stands as a model for the profession. – Robert Smith
“This award to Mr. Dogbevi is well deserved. He continues to be a relentless voice pushing for quality journalism in Ghana and exudes that quality in his many impactful reports in spite of the difficult circumstances under which he operates. His body of works inspires many young journalists in Ghana like me to do better,” says Jonas Nyabor, a reporter for The Africa Report.
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, founder and executive director of the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ) eulogizing Dogbevi says; “Emmanuel has long been one of the top business journalists globally, so his recognition as one of this year’s winners of the Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize is completely deserved.” He adds, “It’s important to note that he’s demonstrated remarkable courage in carrying out this work in a hostile press environment and speaking up for colleagues like Ignace Sossou, a Beninese journalist who was wrongfully imprisoned by his government in 2020.
In addition to running Ghana Business News, where he has graciously published work produced by CCIJ members, Emmanuel has shown his commitment to the next generation of business journalists. He’s trained hundreds of them in many of the same techniques and skills he advanced during his year participating at Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University. We’re honored to have such high-quality people like Emmanuel in our community, and are thrilled that his work is receiving this important award,” Lowenstein added.
Kizito Cudjoe, who works with the Business and Financial Times newspaper has this to say: “It excites me beyond admiration to see this recognition, of someone who devotes much of his limited resources to undertaking investigations into critical matters affecting the development of Ghana. While his nerve-racking and compelling reports are barely recognized locally, this award is seen by many of us, his mentees, as an inspiration to deepen our pursuit of development and solutions journalism.”
I hope his award will inspire fresh thinking and innovative ideas for Ghanaian journalists – Michael Sarpong Bruce
“I am incredibly proud of Emmanuel’s reporting and this award for his excellent global journalism. Having known Emmanuel and collaborated with him on a few projects, this award exemplifies his bravery, diligence, beautiful storytelling, and enormous commitment to excellence in reporting on a variety of subjects, particularly tax avoidance and exposing wrongdoing and corruption. I hope his award will inspire fresh thinking and innovative ideas for Ghanaian journalists,” says Michael Sarpong Bruce, a former senior business journalist at the Business Financial Times and head of public relations, corporate social responsibility and media buying at telecom firm AirtelTigo who now works at IQM, the European leader in building quantum computers.
“I can’t think of anyone who deserves this award more. Emmanuel is admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering. Congratulations to him,” Sally Nyakanyanga, Zimbabwean freelance journalist.
“I had the privilege of working with Emmanuel on a project to train and support journalists and civil society representatives to access and use beneficial ownership information and extractive sector data to undertake investigative reporting in Ghana.
As a Country Lead, striking the right balance; journalism (relevant expertise), governance and development (sector specific knowledge) was crucial for the project success.
Having Emanuel on board offered exactly that balance. Emmanuel’s demonstrable depth of experience in investigative journalism, recourse to quality methodology and fantastic storytelling were instrumental in shaping the project concept, facilitating relevant sessions and mentoring, guiding selected participants through months of pilot investigations. The news of Emmanuel winning another award – this time the Welles Prize – therefore came as no surprise to me. Congratulations!” Says Edwin Wuadom Warden, Anglophone Africa Country Officer, Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Norway
Gifty Bingley, A Senior Communications Leader has this to say: “Emmanuel is an outstanding independent journalist – he is very committed, and this is evident in the thorough work he does to hold public officials and citizens accountable.
He’s also made a great impact in terms of paying it forward. I sat through some of his training sessions when the organisation I then worked with, partnered with him to build the capacity of young Ghanaian journalists. He shared valuable insights on research, news framing and investigative journalism. Congratulations on the award. Well deserved.”
For me journalism’s importance for ensuring equitable, just, balanced and democratic societies cannot be over-emphasised. The role of journalists in holding the powerful to account, shining light on dark spots and speaking up for the voiceless is a sacred one that must be defended and protected. This award is a big motivation – Emmanuel K Dogbevi
In a place where businesses and corporations largely determine what journalists write and publish about them, because they control large advertising budgets, leading to the churning out of press releases and marketing information from the corporations as business news, Dogbevi’s works are a shining example of outstanding reporting that must be acknowledged.
“For me journalism’s importance for ensuring equitable, just, balanced and democratic societies cannot be over-emphasised. The role of journalists in holding the powerful to account, shining light on dark spots and speaking up for the voiceless is a sacred one that must be defended and protected. This award is a big motivation,” Dogbevi said.
Dogbevi was in the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship class of 2013-2014.
The Fellowship was founded in 1975, and named for John S. and James L. Knight brothers who established the Knight Foundation, and Walter Bagehot, the 19th-century British economist and editor of The Economist.
The Fellows have been described as ‘representing the best and brightest of business journalism’.
The Fellowship also announced Olivia Carville, an investigative reporter at Bloomberg, winner of the WERT Prize for her series on how Airbnb’s elite trust-and-safety team works to keep crime and safety violations at Airbnb properties out of the news.
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 from the Women’s Economic Round Table and support from the Muriel F. Siebert Foundation and the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
“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 work by this year’s prize winners highlights how critical business journalism is to holding institutions accountable,” said Smith. “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 honour and recognize the exemplary efforts of Emmanuel, Jeff and Olivia.”
By Peter Quarshie
Copyright ©2022 by NewsBridge Africa
All rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in reviews.