Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 3
Summer 1994
Top-notch reporter choses classroom over newsroom

     I was completely overwhelmed and burst into tears," Melanie
Lewis, Delaware '86, said upon learning she had won a Pulitzer Prize.
Lewis, formerly of Wilmington, Del., was part of a team at the Dallas
Morning News awarded a l994 Pulitzer Prize for International
     Lewis, eight other reporters, five photographers, three editors
and three graphic designers developed the award-winning series,
"Violence Against Women: A Question of Human Rights," covering
questions of violence against women around the world in places as
diverse as India and Sweden.
     "I was lucky that one of the editors spearheading the project
knew of my interest in women's issues," says Lewis, who at the time
was the newspaper's education reporter. Lewis reported on the
situation in Canada.
     "I spent two weeks in Toronto and Montreal and saw the really
good things that Canada is doing to combat the problem. In 1989, there
was a mass slaying of 14 young women near Montreal and that galvanized
the country to do something about violence against women."
     The man who perpetrated Canada's worst mass murder, which took
place at the Universite de Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, said he
"hated women" and blamed "feminists" for his failures.
     For her story, Lewis, who earned a bachelor's degree in English
and journalism from UD, spent time with one of the victim's families
and, as a result, wrote a riveting beginning to her story that
detailed their experiences identifying her body in the morgue. Lewis'
story goes on to discuss Canada's climate toward women and its actions
to take seriously the issue of violence against them.
     "It was a hard piece to write because I came back with a box load
of information and notes. It was a challenge to pull it all together
and still make it lively and interesting," Lewis says.
     "I don't think anyone thought about a Pulitzer as we were working
on the series. We just saw it as an opportunity to get the issue out
there, to put women in the forefront."
     The award had a certain bittersweetness to it for Lewis, who had
previously decided to leave journalism to become a teacher. Even now,
when she could probably find employment on any newspaper in the
country, she is pursuing her dream of teaching. She left the Dallas
Morning News on May 13 and has been taking courses over the summer
through the Dallas School District's Alternative Certification
Program. She expects to have her own classroom in the fall.
     Working as an education reporter, she says, furthered her
interest and commitment to make teaching her career.
     "I've loved my time in journalism, but I have a real desire to
help young children. We do a lot of good things in journalism and we
do some things to bring about change, but I want to have an impact on
at least one child's life on a daily basis."
     At Delaware, Lewis worked for the student radio station WXDR (now
WVUD) and for the student newspaper, The Review. While on campus, she
was a member of two national honor societies, Omicron Delta Kappa and
Mortar Board.
     She credits M. Dennis Jackson, UD professor of English, for
sparking her interest in journalism and serving as her mentor,
especially during a feature writing class. Jackson, she says, taught
her "how to look and see the things that are meaningful in people's
     She also cited former journalism faculty members Chuck Stone and
Edward Nickerson for their help in shaping her career. Stone, who
taught advanced reporting, was "very inspirational," and Nickerson
"taught me the basics," Lewis says.
     Upon graduating from the University, Lewis worked as a zone
reporter, general assignment reporter and education reporter for the
Des Moines Register .
     She joined the Dallas paper as a bureau reporter, becoming
education reporter in 1991.
     Her other awards include a Media Award from the Texas Council of
Family Violence, two School Bell awards for excellence in feature
writing from the Texas State Teachers Association and a national
reporting award for spot news from the Education Writers Association.
     She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists,
the Education Writers Association and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
                                                          -Beth Thomas