How can we enable an informed citizenry to participate in democracy? What is the media’s role in democracy?

Media and democracy are cornerstones of Sanford’s work. Sanford’s mission is to improve lives and communities by researching the most pressing public policy issues and preparing students for lives of leadership, civic engagement and public service. Through research, faculty are building knowledge about policy, democracy and journalism. In their teaching, faculty teach crucial skills for students who develop as leaders, public servants, journalists and engaged citizens.



Our faculty have produced thousands of research findings that contribute to the knowledge base for evidence-driven policy. They have created new fact-checking standards for journalists, trained people how to run for political office, served in all levels of government including Congress and advised presidential candidates and the White House.

Related programs/courses

  • Public Policy Studies major
  • Policy Journalism and Media Studies certificate (open to all Duke majors)
  • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • PhD in Public Policy

Research Centers


The DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy (director: Phil Napoli) is Duke University’s hub for the study of journalism. We study the interaction between news media and policy; we support watchdog and accountability reporting in the U.S. and around the world; and we teach about the media’s role in democracy. The Center is part of the Sanford School of Public Policy, and we share the school's mission to improve lives through research, leadership, civic engagement and public service.


Polis: Center for Politics (director: Deondra Rose) at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is committed to increasing our understanding of politics locally, nationally, and globally. We aim to promote powerful politics research, to foster rich political discourse, and to help a new generation of leaders find on-ramps to public service.


Research Feature

Faculty member Philip Napoli and research associate Jessica Mahone found a wide array of hyperpartisan websites masquerading as local news outlets. These sites were often funded and operated by government officials, candidates and PACs. They called this growth of partisan sites troubling and polarizing.

Read Napoli & Mahone's report

Student Spotlight

Tinae Bluitt was a staffer for Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer prior to coming to Duke. “Working on the Hill is one of the reasons that led me back to graduate school," she says. "I want to work to change polices that are currently not based on data, and use research, human-centered design, and data-backed information to create positive change. I want to return to Washington more prepared to help change policies.”

Read Tinae's story

Alumni Spotlight

Emily Feng travels China as a foreign correspondent. Working for the Financial Times, Feng uncovered key information surrounding the Chinese oppression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, China. Her coverage of the human rights abuses in Xinjiang won several human rights press and journalism awards. Feng now works as NPR’s Beijing correspondent.

Emily is featured on POlicy 360 podcast

Faculty Spotlight

Bill Adair, Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and founder of the Pulitzer Prize-winning website PolitiFact, is on a fact checking mission to stop the flow of misinformation online. With students and researchers in the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, Adair has developed a fact checking toolbox that is in use.

Key Faculty: Media & Democracy Policy

Take a look at core members of our faculty who focus on policy related to media and democracy.

Core Faculty

Related Podcasts

Featured Audio

Ways & Means: Why Young People Don't Vote

Featured Audio

Policy 360: Engaging the Evil Empire

Related Videos

Featured Video

Stand for Democracy: Fireside Chat with Panel on Elections, Voting and Politics

Featured Video

Stand for Democracy: Voting During a Pandemic, a Postal Crisis and Presidential Misinformation

Media & Democracy Policy News

Faculty in the News: Media & Democracy Policy