Sieberg, top journalists among leaders of spring Religion Communicators convention

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NEW YORK — Daniel Sieberg of Google News Lab, is being joined by representatives of some of the nation’s top media organizations as well as many other experts at the intersection of media and religion to lead the Religion Communicators Council’s (RCC) annual convention, March 31-April 2, in New York City.

Religion communicators will build “bridges” among faith groups, find “avenues” to new communications skills and discover “intersections” between faith groups and the world over the course of the three-day event.

The convention will take RCC members to the Interchurch Center on the Upper West Side; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in the Lincoln Center area and the Church Center for the United Nations. Plenary and workshop topics will include multi-religious activism, Google News Lab and the future of media, finding funding and resources, advanced social media training, and issues of religious freedom.

Media representatives, including news anchor, Adhemar X Montagne, senior television news producer, Hussein Saddique and leading scholar and media trainer, Debra Mason, have joined the program.

In a plenary session, Daniel Sieberg, global head of media outreach with the Google News Lab, will share insights about the ever-evolving innovations and challenges of storytelling at the intersection of media and technology.

A panel, “Election Year and Beyond: Social and Political Activism in the City’s Black Churches,” will interpret the intersection of religious tradition, activism and social justice in light of the contemporary social issues and political events.

Other plenary presentations include, a discussion on Navigating Multi-religious Activism, a media panel focused on Re-imagining the Religion Beat, a lunch panel on Religion and the Arts and a discussion of Faith Organizations, the U.N. and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Other featured speakers and panelists already confirmed include:

  • Dr. Frederick Harris, Professor of Political Science and director of the Center on African-American Politics and Society at Columbia University
  • Rev. Que English, senior pastor at Bronx Christian Fellowship Church and chair of New York City Faith-based Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence
  • Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive pastor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Brooklyn, NY
  • Father Jim Martin, SJ, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America magazine and author of several books on religion and spirituality
  • Hemal Trivedi, an Emmy and Oscar winning documentary filmmaker based in Mumbai and New York City

Workshop topics for RCC 2016 include:

  • An exploration by representatives of UNICEF, WCC, and UMC’s Global Health program about the practical value of inter-organizational collaborations to promote and cover stories about the health, safety, and well-being of children and women.
  • Matt Tombers, Jenni Crumpton, and Patrick Heery will share strategies, insights, and tips for “Building a Better Blog.”

As part of the convention each year, RCC recognizes excellence through two award ceremonies, the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards and the Wilbur Awards. The DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards are given annually to active RCC members who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations.

The Wilbur Awards, which recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values and themes in secular media, have been presented annually since 1949. Basic criteria include content, creativity, execution and results, but the ultimate criterion is excellence in the communication of religious values. For more information, see the Wilbur Awards web page.

A special Wilbur Award will be given to the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, former head of the National Council of Churches and former Director of Religion at the historic Chautauqua Institution. The honor will recognize Campbell’s over 30 years of public and behind-the-scenes work in all forms of media.

Bud Heckman, Executive Director of the International Shinto Foundation, and RCC Vice President, said RCC, and specifically this convention, is a great way to learn and further professional networks.

“After college and well into our careers, the place that we get the best networking opportunities, insights into new trends and promising practices, and creative professional tinkering is the colleague-sharing associations to which we can belong,” Heckman said. “For those interested in the outreach and impact of faith-based organizations, RCC is the place to learn and relate.”

“If you need some fresh frames to see and want a continuing education opportunity, the 2016 Religion Communicators convention is a well-thought out and rich opportunity to learn for folks who work for and with faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development. The convention promises key interfaith and faith leaders, government officials, and communications experts, as well as a peak at Google’s latest tech and unrepeatable behind-the-scenes tours across the canvas of one of the most beautiful cities in the world – New York City.”

For more information on the convention, including hotel information and registration, please visit Full registration is $395, which includes banquet meals. Day rates and specific banquet tickets are also available from the event registration site.

RCC logoThe Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.



Shirley Struchen

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