Articles about sexual assault and a project on fact-checking were selected for top honors in the 2018 student journalism awards, which are given each year by the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

Duke journalism student Julia Donheiser and 2018 graduate Riley Griffin have been jointly selected for the 2018 Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism, which honors the best student journalism.


Julia Donheiser

Donheiser won for her March article, “At off-campus bars, some Duke students describe a culture of sexual misconduct,” which was published in College Town, a student publication of the News & Observer.


Riley Griffin

Griffin is being honored for her April 2018 Duke Chronicle article  “Kim Cates took a stance in the Duke lacrosse case – what does that mean for students today?”, which examined whether the atmosphere of the popular bar Shooters contributed to problems with sexual assault.


Bill McCarthy[/caption]

Senior Bill McCarthy won the new Fischer-Zernin Award for local journalism for his work with the North Carolina Fact-Checking Project, which is featured in PolitiFact North Carolina and the Raleigh News & Observer. His fact-checks included “Does this GOP candidate actually want to ‘abolish’ the Department of Education?”, “Republican ‘voted to gut protections for pre-existing conditions?’ There’s more to it”, and “George Holding misleads on Obamacare premium increase during debate.”

Bill Adair, director of the DeWitt Wallace Center, said the judges took the unusual step of giving two first place awards for the Melcher prize because Donheiser and Griffin “produced powerful stories on an important subject.”

Second place was awarded to 2018 graduate Elizabeth Anne Brown for her article “I go to Duke. Do I have to love basketball?”, which was published in the New York Times.

The awards will be presented at the annual DeWitt Wallace Center dinner April 15.

The Melcher Award is endowed by Richard Melcher ‘74, former writer and chief of the London and Chicago bureaus of Business Week, and a Chronicle writer during his time at Duke. First place winners receive $750 prize, while second place carries a $500 prize.

The Fischer-Zernin Award is underwritten by Max Fischer-Zernin, who worked in the Duke Reporter’s Lab before he graduated in 2015. It has a $500 prize.

In addition to these awards, the Futrell Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications and Journalism, established in 1998 by Ashley B. Futrell, Jr. in tribute to his father’s contributions to Duke and journalism, will be presented to Duke alumna Susan Taylor Martin ‘71.