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28 April 2016: The Overseas Press Club (OPC) has awarded two prizes to the Financial Times:
Middle East Correspondent Erika Solomon (@ErikaSolomon), Defense and Security Editor Sam Jones (@samgadjones), Special Projects Editor Robin Kwong (@RobinKwong) and reporters Ahmad Mhidi and Guy Chazan (@guychazan) won Best investigative reporting in any medium on an international story for their feature series, “Isis, Inc”
The Cornelius Ryan Award is given for the “best nonfiction book on international affairs” and the winner is chosen by a jury of journalists.
The Looting Machine aims to explain why a continent as exceptionally rich in resources as Africa is nevertheless blighted by poverty. The judges, headed up by Dan Hertzberg, described Burgis’ reporting as “exceptionally detailed” and commented:
“Burgis carries out remarkable on-the-ground investigations to identify the government and corporate officials who, in country after country, collude to amass tremendous fortunes while leaving their citizens impoverished and powerless. The book is a must-read for those eager to understand the problems plaguing a wide swath of Africa today.”
Burgis, who has reported on Africa since 2006 and lived in Johannesburg and Lagos for three years, said: “Africa’s vast natural wealth sails away to fuel the global economy, leaving behind holes in the ground, corruption, violence and misrule. Many brave Africans took risks to help me name names in The Looting Machine. It is deeply heartening that the OPC has recognised that theirs is a story we must heed.”
The Looting Machine has also been named a Spectator Book of the Year.
The series “Isis, Inc” took a deep look at how the Isis economy affects civilian life within its territories and beyond, forcing even its enemies to do business with it. The entrenched nature of the group’s wealth makes it a challenge to combat. The FT investigation shows how the jihadis raise money and spend it, from running a sprawling oil operation to taxing civilians and arms dealing.
The judges commented: “This powerful and revealing series turned a spotlight on the inner workings of one of the most opaque and dangerous organizations in the world. This groundbreaking investigation into ISIS’s oil trading and financial operations was based on resourceful, brave and deep reporting into where the extremist group gets its revenue and how it exploits and extorts from just about everyone in the territory it controls. The crisp, well-organized stories were aided by excellent explanatory graphics.”
Erika Solomon previously won the FT’s Jones-Mauthner prize for excellence in international reporting her stories on Isis. She said: “We are honoured to recognized by the OPC awards committee, and to be named alongside such talented competition. Our reports on Isis aimed to move beyond fear of the jihadi force and help readers understand how it was able to thrive. We are grateful for the help of so many brave and inspiring Syrians and Iraqis who came forward to speak and helped make this effort a success.”
There were 486 entries in this year’s competition. Find more details and a full list of winners here.
The awards will be presented Thursday evening at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, and the event will be livestreamed from 7:30pmET.
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