Media News

Hilsenrath, Tozzi to receive Welles Prize from Columbia

October 18, 2023

Posted by Chris Roush

Jon Hilsenrath

The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia Journalism School announced Wednesday that a reporter from Bloomberg News and a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal have won the 2023 Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize.

The Welles Prize judges singled out two Knight-Bagehot alumni to receive the award: Jon Hilsenrath, Class of 1995-1996, and John Tozzi, Class of 2016-2017.

Hilsenrath, who worked as an editor and reporter for The Journal for nearly 26 years, was cited for his book, “Yellen, The Trailblazing Economist Who Navigated an Era of Upheaval,” a biography of Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury Secretary and former Federal Reserve chair. The book represents the culmination of Hilsenrath’s stellar reporting on economics over the decades, the judges said.

“Jon knocked it out of the ballpark with this book that weaves so many threads into one compelling narrative about the last few decades of economics in America and the woman who was central to it all,” said judge Leslie Wayne, Knight-Bagehot Class of 1980. The book goes beyond biography and provides a detailed insider’s view into the biggest economic challenges and crises of the last several decades. “Written with clarity and insight, “Yellen” is a perfect mix of the personal and policy, of politics and passion,” said Wayne.

John Tozzi

Tozzi, a health care reporter for Bloomberg News, was cited for his series of stories exposing how New Jersey’s health insurer overpaid claims by millions of dollars and continued to do business with the insurer at considerable cost to taxpayers and state workers. His work highlights the essential impact of beat reporting, the judges said.

Tozzi’s work “was detailed, dogged, clear and mind-blowing,” said judge Quentin Hardy, Knight-Bagehot Class of 1995. Hardy listed several criteria by which Tozzi’s work stood out: “I was outraged. I wanted to know more. I understood something about the world better (if less happily). I hope the reporter is still on the case, and that others join him.”

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

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