From WRAL to Harvard: Dukes Selected as Nieman Fellow

Tyler Dukes

WRAL.com Public Records Researcher/Reporter Tyler Dukes has been been selected as a Nieman Fellow to work and study at Harvard in the 2016-17 school year.

WRAL.com Public Records Researcher/Reporter Tyler Dukes has been been selected as a Nieman Fellow to work and study at Harvard in the 2016-17 school year, a prestigious honor.  He will be one of 24 journalists, half from the U.S. and half from abroad, in the program.  The participants will each work on an individual project.

“The fellowship is basically an opportunity for mid-career journalists to take two semesters away from the newsroom to study something relevant to their work,” explained Dukes.  “We’ll take classes at Harvard, MIT and Tufts and attend other lectures from journalists on a range of topics.”

In its inception in 1938, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism has educated more than 1,500 accomplished journalists from 94 countries.

“This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but it’s taken me years to really settle on what I wanted to study,” said Dukes.  “I’ll be studying best practices for spreading data and computational journalism techniques to underserved communities, with a focus on curriculum development in journalism schools, on-the-job training at small news organizations and methods to port the latest computational and social science techniques from academia to the newsroom.”

Originally from Elizabeth City, NC, Dukes graduated from NC State University with a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology and Society.  He joined the WRAL News staff in May 2013.

“Tyler Dukes is a unique journalist in a unique role,” said WRAL.com Director of Content Jodi Glusco.  “At WRAL News, we hold him up as the prototype of the evolution of our profession – curious, technically savvy, dogged and passionate.”

In his short time at WRAL, Dukes has already racked up several awards.  This March he received honors at the North Carolina Open Government Coalition’s annual Sunshine Day event, which celebrates government transparency.  The organization honored him for his work to make thousands of UNC academic fraud records more accessible to the public and for his reporting on Michael Kerr, a 53-year-old inmate who was found dead in the back of a prison transport van after he was moved to Central Prison in Raleigh on March 12, 2014.

He also won First Place in the Original Web Reporting category of the 2015 Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas (RTDNAC) awards for “The Final Days of Michael Kerr.”

“There is no limit to Tyler’s potential,” said Glusco.  “He is always ready with a potential solution, but he is not a Pollyanna about technology. He understands the limits of available tools and is able to build his own adaptations. He is a developer and a teacher, committed to democratizing technologies for application by any journalist, no matter their skill level or demand for daily churn.”

Dukes says that during his time at WRAL, he is most proud of his investigation into death of inmate Michael Kerr.

“Piecing together his final days in solitary confinement from court documents really underscored the treatment of the mentally ill in state prisons and the use of restrictive housing, and his death has had far-reaching impacts on how the state approaches treatment for inmates,” said Dukes.

Dukes leaves for his year in Boston this August.

“It’s really an incredible opportunity,” he said, “and I am incredibly grateful to my news managers for their support.”

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