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Vernon Jarrett Medal To Be Presented To New York Times Reporter For Her Work In Coverage Of Hate Crime, Race, And Identity

9/12/2019, 1:14 p.m.
Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication (SGJC) announced today that it is awarding the 2019 Vernon Jarrett ...
(left to right) Soraya Nadia McDonald and Audra D.S. Burch David Marshall

— Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication (SGJC) announced today that it is awarding the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence to Audra D.S. Burch, an award-winning National Enterprise Correspondent for The New York Times.

"The judges and I were so very impressed with the depth and scope of Burch's work. Her reporting represents important aspects about the black condition in America that merits recognition," said DeWayne Wickham SGJC Dean. "We are very excited to celebrate her accomplishments and award her The Jarrett Medal this year."

Burch was cited for a body of work that included articles titled, "Who Killed Atlanta's Children;" "Parkland Activists;" "Why a Town is Finally Honoring a Black Veteran," and "Gardening While Black."

Before joining the Times, Burch was a senior enterprise reporter on the Miami Herald's Investigations team. As part of a two-person unit, Burch explored abuse in Florida's juvenile justice system. The series, "Fight Club," was a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist. An earlier I-team project focused on how almost 500 children died of abuse or neglect over a six-year period after falling through Florida's child welfare safety net. The series, "Innocents Lost," won numerous honors including the Worth Bingham Prize, the Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting and the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. While at the Herald, Burch also crafted a specialty race and culture beat based in the American South.

"I am deeply honored to be named the recipient of the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence. As an African American journalist, my stories are so often centered on the fault lines of race and what it means to be black in modern America," Burch said. "One of the late Vernon Jarrett's greatest gifts was his fearless commitment to covering black life with authority and humanity. Both this prestigious award and Mr. Jarrett's enduring legacy are an inspiration. I hope to continue exploring stories of injustice and inequities, but also healing and resilience."

Burch launched her career at the Post-Tribune in Gary, Indiana followed by a stint at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University. Burch is also a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Burch will receive the prize, which includes a $10,000 check, at a Sept. 19 ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington.

For just the second time in the last five years, a runner-up was announced. Judges named Soraya Nadia McDonald, the culture critic for ESPN's The Undefeated to receive an award.

McDonald writes about film, television, the arts, fashion, and books. She is also a contributing editor for Film Comment magazine and a critic for Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She is a member of the New York Outer Critics. Previously, she was a pop culture writer for The Washington Post, where she focused on issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in journalism in 2006 and spent six years covering sports before turning her focus to culture writing.