Winner of Davidson Award takes on cause

May 14 • 685 Views • View Comments

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DELAND, Fla., May 14, 2014 – Melissa Blackerby, Stetson class of 2014, is the recipient of the 2014 Josephine F. Davidson Award for Integrity in Journalism for her writing and reporting, and will receive $500. Katie Dezes, class of 2015, was named runner-up.

Blackerby’s advocacy journalism was written for ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution And Trafficking), and republished on the website of ATEST (Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking). Blackerby wrote a story on Homeland Security’s campaign to prevent human trafficking and also reported on how New York City budget cuts affected runaway and homeless kids.

Dezes’ entries in the Stetson Reporter, included a feature story about a Stetson professor who appeared in the documentary Blackfish and reporting on a DeLand rock band’s first album.

“I am incredibly honored to have received this recognition, not only for myself and my work, but for the thousands of children who are commercially sexually exploited every day across the nation and around the world,” said Blackerby. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank Stetson University and ECPAT-USA for the opportunity to shed light on this pervasive crime that does not often receive adequate attention in our society. With education, awareness and prevention, we can all play a part in the fight to end modern slavery.”

Both Blackerby and Dezes are journalism minors. Blackerby majors in Communication and Media Studies, while Dezes is an English major who was recently hired by Stetson’s Student Publications and Media Board as the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Reporter, for next year. A panel of Stetson faculty from the journalism program and Communication and Media Studies Department, along with Daytona Beach News-Journal editors, selected the winner and runner-up.

The award was established by Stetson alumni Bill and Sally Gillespie along with donations by friends, family and colleagues of the late Josephine Field Davidson, former editor of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Presented by the Journalism Program, which is part of Stetson’s Communication and Media Studies Department, it honors work that best exemplifies the integrity, accuracy, clarity, and unselfish concern for others that was personified by Davidson. Any current Stetson students who published journalism this past year on any topic, in any medium, including online or in The Reporter, were eligible to enter.

Read this story on Stetson Today

Founded in 1883, Stetson University in Central Florida is an independent university that provides a transforming education in the liberal arts tradition. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high national rankings. In 1982, Stetson was awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. The College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are located at the historic campus in DeLand. The College of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: the Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando. More information: University Marketing, 386-822-8920. Stay Connected with Stetson on social media.

Mary Anne Rogers, University Marketing
(386) 822-7215; main line (386) 822-8920


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