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SGJC Names Two Recipients As Winners of 2020 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence

Errin Haines, Editor at large for The 19th, and Adam Serwer, of The Atlantic, to be Awarded for Outstanding Reporting on the Impact of the Coronavirus on Black Life in America

Vernon Jarrett Medal


BALTIMORE — Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism & Communication (SGJC) announced it will award the 2020 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence to Errin Haines, of The 19th, and Adam Serwer, of The Atlantic.

“Each year the School of Global Journalism & Communication gives a single award in honor of Vernon Jarrett, a pioneering African American columnist, to a journalist whose reporting on some aspect of Black life in America exemplifies Jarrett’s commitment to making such storytelling an integral part of mainstream journalism,” said DeWayne Wickham, the SGJC dean.

“This year we received an exceptional response to our request for submissions that focused on the impact of the coronavirus on African Americans, a group whose health care disparities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The judges were so impressed with the quality of these submissions that they decided to award not one, but two medals this year.”

One goes to Serwer, a staff writer for The Atlantic. The other goes to Haines, editor-at-large of The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that reports on the intersection of gender, politics and policy. Serwer, who previously worked for Mother JonesThe Washington Post, MSNBC, Salon and Jack and Jill Politics, is being recognized for his May 8, 2020 article in The Atlantic, titled, “The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying.”

Haines, a co-founder of The 19th, is being recognized for a series of profiles (“Portraits of a Pandemic“) she wrote between April and June 2020 about Black women in Philadelphia who grappled with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Before joining The 19th, Haines was a national writer on race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. She also worked for The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Orlando Sentinel.


Traditionally, the Vernon Jarrett Medal is presented during a ceremony at the National Press Club. This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the continuing need to adhere to the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the medal will be presented virtually on Thursday, Nov. 12.

In addition to an attractive medal, each recipient will receive a $10,000 prize.

The Vernon Jarrett Medal is named for the late Vernon Jarrett, a pioneering African American columnist who wrote for the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times and who used his columns and long-running radio and television shows to educate Americans about the nation’s legacy of slavery and segregation. Jarrett was a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Previous Jarrett Medal winners are Audra S. Burch, of The New York Times (2019); Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Helen Ubiñas (2018),  Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Mensah Dean (2017), Kirsten West Savali, a writer, cultural critic and associate editor of The Root(2016) and Dr. Stacey Patton, a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education (2015).

The Vernon Jarrett Medal ceremony begins at 11:30. The waiting room opens to all guest/attendees at 11:15 a.m. ET.  You may join the event at:


The Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence is funded by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

About the School of Global Journalism & Communication

The School of Global Journalism & Communication, created in July 2013, is led by founding Dean DeWayne Wickham, a former columnist for USA TODAY and a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. The school is dedicated to giving voice to people who struggle to contribute to the public discourse that shapes the nation and the world through innovative teaching, cutting-edge research and exemplary service to Maryland, the nation and the world. The school seeks to instill students with the skills, knowledge and training necessary to become effective communicators and to add to the diversity of thought in the media.

About Morgan

Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution offering more than 126 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.


David Marshall, for SGJC

Larry Jones or Dell Jackson, University PR
(443) 885-3022


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