Mississippi Today investigative reporter Anna Wolfe won the 2023 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism honors, for her explosive series “The Backchannel.”
Wolfe’s series unearthed new evidence about former Gov. Phil Bryant’s role in the state’s massive welfare scandal, inspiring multiple court defendants to come forward with allegations against Bryant or publicly insist Bryant be held accountable. The series also exposed key new players in the scandal like former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, patterns of political nepotism and coercion, and damning proof that powerful figures kept millions from people who needed it most.
Wolfe is the youngest solo winner of the 30-year-old prize, and just the third two-time winner.
“In Mississippi, we’ve all been fortunate to witness Anna Wolfe’s impact and importance to the state for many years,” said Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today’s editor-in-chief and lead editor of “The Backchannel” investigation. “It’s incredibly fitting and deserving that now the nation gets to see and recognize her work through one of the most impactful and shocking journalistic investigations in recent memory.”
Mississippi Today was among five other finalists for the 2023 award: The New York Times, The Associated Press, National Public Radio, Reuters, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. The prize, first awarded in 1993, is given annually by the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School.
This is the second time Wolfe has won the award. She and former Mississippi Today reporter Michelle Liu won the 2021 Goldsmith Prize for their investigation, in conjunction with The Marshall Project, of the state’s restitution centers.