The Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism annually recognizes undergraduate writers at Duke University for the best journalistic work produced in the previous year. Cash awards of $750 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place are presented at an awards dinner held in conjunction with the Fischer-Zernin and Futrell Awards.

Richard Melcher (Duke, T’74) serves on the board of the Center for Investigative Reporting and is co-founder and principal of Melcher + Tucker Consultants, a strategic consulting firm based in Chicago. Prior to founding the firm, he was a writer and chief of the London and Chicago bureaus of Business Week. He has maintained close ties to the Sanford School and the DeWitt Wallace Center, and fondly recalls his years working on The Chronicle. This award represents his commitment to student journalism that is thoughtful, well documented and well presented.

How to apply:

  • Eligibility: Any journalistic piece published by an undergraduate Duke student during the previous year (January 1 to December 31, 2023)
  • Please submit work using this form.
  • You may also (but are not required to) send a hard copy if you would like, to: Shelley Stonecipher, Sanford School of Public Policy, Box 90241, Room 141.
  • The deadline for submissions is March 8, although candidates are encouraged to send their pieces at any time before that date.

For questions about the award, please contact: Shelley Stonecipher.

Answers to FAQ:

All forms of journalistic media are eligible and encouraged, including blogs and broadcast news.
All focus areas are eligible, including Arts, Sports, OpEd, etc.
Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors are all eligible.

The Melcher Awards committee is comprised of journalism program alumni and former recipients of the award.

Awards Event

The Melcher Award is presented at an awards dinner in the spring, together with the alumni Futrell Award. The awards dinner includes student journalists and alumni in the fields of media and communications. The Melcher Award recipient may invite close family members to the event. If the award recipient has graduated at the time of the awards dinner, we will cover travel expenses for the award winner to return to campus.

Melcher Award Recipients



First place: Charlotte Kramon, A UNC Student’s Overdose Death at Duke (and follow-up story 1, and story 2), The Assembly

Second place: Riya Sharma, For UNC Housekeepers, the Decades-Long Fight for Fair Wages Endures, Indy Week

Third place: Jackie Cole, Thousands of members of Rainbow Family of Living Light and Love arriving in White Mountain National Forest this July (series, story 2, story 3, and story 4), The Concord Monitor



First place: Milla Surjadi, Student Commencement speech bears striking resemblance to 2014 Harvard student address (and follow-up story), The Chronicle

Second place: Hana Stepnick, How will social media platforms respond to election misinformation? It isn’t clear, Politifact

Third place: Christopher Kuo, In St. Pete Beach, free sailboat rides offer wellness to souls in need, The Tampa Bay Times



First place: Michaela Towfighi, Still waiting for a trial, family gathers to remember Angelica Lane two years after fatal crash, Concord Monitor

Second place: Caroline Petrow-Cohen, Opinion: Arizona plans to use cyanide on death row. Nazis killed millions with the same gas, Los Angeles Times

Third place: Christopher Kuo, I wish I could do it forever: The story of Dean Sue’s decades at Duke, from student to dean to faculty-in-residence, The Chronicle


First place: Cameron Beach, Duke Hospital Sends Bill Collectors After Student Rape Victim, INDY Week and The 9th Street Journal, February 14, 2020

Second place: Isabella Caracta, JUUL-Funded Researcher Pushes Pro-Vaping Stance, The Chronicle, January 15, 2020.

Third place: Cameron Oglesby, Podcast: Bridging the Gap: Diversity, Discomfort, and Discrimination, The Chronicle, November 6, 2020.


First place: Rose Wong, Vital Signs: An investigative look at a pattern of misdiagnoses and inadequate care at Duke Student Health, The Chronicle, October 31, 2019 to December 23, 2019

Second place: Max Donheiser and Julianna Rennie, Duke invested $10.3 million in company tied to disputed pipeline, alleged gov’t corruption: The Paradise Papers offer a rare look at how the University manages its investment portfolio behind closed doors, January 30, 2019. Related: How we investigated Duke’s investments in Ferrous Resources, January 30, 2019

Third place: Rebecca Torrence, Is going through the reporting process worth it?, The Chronicle, November 21, 2019


First place: Max Donheiser, At off-campus bars, some Duke students describe a culture of sexual misconduct, College Town, March 27, 2018

First place: Riley Griffin, Kim Cates took a stance in the Duke lacrosse case—what does that mean for students today?, The Chronicle, April 12, 2018

Second place: Elizabeth Anne Brown, I go to Duke. Do I have to care about basketball?, The New York Times, March 2, 2018


Andrew Tan-Delli-Cicchi, Supermanwoman, The Standard, October 16, 2017

Honorable Mention:

Max Donheiser, Choice for most: In nation’s largest voucher program, $16 million went to schools with anti-LGBT policies, Chalkbeat, August 10, 2017

Riley Griffin, When Trump talks about ‘fake news,’ he probably means Russia coverage, Poynter, April 12, 2017

Sam Turken, Why doesn’t the men’s basketball program have female managers?, The Chronicle, December 8, 2017



Amrith Ramkumar and Rachel Chason

2-part series in The Chronicle, February 29 and 30, 2016

  1. EVP Tallman Trask hit parking attendant with car accused of using racial slur;
  2. Employees describe hostile, discriminatory environment in PTS department

Honorable Mention:

Rajiv Golla, A Mosque, a Fire, and a Lesson, Roads & Kingdoms, July 12, 2016

Carly Stern, Twelve dollars, Chronicle, April 7, 2016



Andrew Kragie, A second best decision, The Chronicle, February 25, 2015

Honorable mention:

Mumbi Kanyogo , Coming to America, The Standard, November 5th, 2015



Emily Feng, The Occupiers: Out of the Classrooms and Into the Streets, China Hands Magazine on December 5, 2014



Andrew Beaton, The Oral History of Tailgate, The Duke Chronicle on November 08, 2013



Sanette (Tanaka) Sloan, 3-part series on The Rebounding Workforce, The Chronicle on April 23-25, 2012


Lauren Carroll, Kunshan Campus Takes Shape Amid Doubts, The Chronicle on April 6, 2011



Rachna Reddy, Questions linger about Hellinga case, The Chronicle on April 20, 2010

Special Recognition:

Ryan L. Brown and Naureen F. Khan, Ladies First: Does Sexism Exist at Duke?, Towerview, April 2010



Jessica Lichter, 3-part series in The Chronicle, March 17 – 19, 2009, entitled “Making the Grade”

Part 1:GPAs have steadily risen over decades since 1960: Average Duke GPA has increased 1 point

Part 2: Grading on a curve: Several causes underlie grade inflation, which affects majors differently

Part 3: No easy solution for grade inflation exists, some say



Ben Cohen, Leveling the Playing Field:  The Impact of Race on the Search for Duke’s Next Head Football Coach, The Chronicle, December 6, 2007

Special Recognition:

Robert L. Copeland, 3-part series DUPD Plagued by Attrition, The Chronicle,



Kristin Butler, Soaking the Poor: With All Deliberate Speed, The Chronicle



Jeffrey E. Stern, Family Man: The Story of Three Men Who Share a Tent by the Tracks Just Off Main Street,  The Independent

Special Recognition:

Seyward Darby, Mission in Mississippi: North Carolina Medical Volunteers Bring Hope, Aid to Katrina Victims, The Chronicle, September 13, 2005.



Andrew Gerst,  for his article Building Comunidad, Towerview.

An Honorable Mention for Investigative Reporting goes to

Jake Poses and Matt Sullivan for their series of articles on possible steroid use by some Duke baseball team players, published in Duke’s student newspaper the Chronicle in April 2005.



Philip Kurian, Journeys in South Africa

Honorable Mention:

Emily Rotberg, N.C. Textile Towns Struggle with Massive Layoffs



Tyler Rosen Assessing Intellectualism, The Chronicle