Battling back against charges of “fake news” emanating from the White House, the McCarthey Family Foundation is offering $8,000 in scholarships to Utah students who write essays in defense of a free press.

Students in grades 6 through 12 as well as undergraduate and graduate college students are asked to submit essays on “Why the free press matters in a democracy” — and provide reasons and examples that support their position.

Winners will be announced in three groups:

• Students in grades 6-8, who are asked to submit 500-word essays. The winner will receive $1,500.

• Students in grades 9-12, who are asked to submit 750-word essays. The winner will receive $2,500.

• College students, who are asked to submit a 1,000-word essay. The winner will receive $4,000.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, Sept. 21. Entrants should email a Word document to and include their name, phone number, email address, grade, school name and, in the case of college students, their department and school name.

Winners will be introduced at the 13th annual McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture: In Praise of Independent Journalism on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. at Rowland Hall’s Philip G. McCarthey Campus, 720 Guardsman Way, Salt Lake City. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the co-hosts of “Morning Joe,” will be the guest lecturers.

The lecture is open to the public at no charge. The winning essays will be printed in the evening’s program.