PHILADELPHIA (RNS) Writing about religion isn’t all hope and inspiration.
“There are days when I feel despair about the news and the place of religion in it,” said Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, named first-place winner for excellence in religion reporting at the Religion Newswriters Association’s 66th annual awards ceremony over the weekend in Philadelphia.
“This work is getting harder,” added Goodstein, in what she said were unprepared remarks. She won in the large newspapers and wire services category for stories published in 2014.
Yet religion reporting is more important than ever, said David Gibson of Religion News Service, who won the first-place award for excellence in religion news analysis.
“Religion writers are crucial in providing a deeper historical, cultural, political and theological framework,” said Gibson.
“The industry’s woes and the amount of news and the subject matter can weigh heavily,” Gibson added. “But then stories like the pontificate of Pope Francis and the response to him of so many people of good faith, and no faith at all, can provide a whole new perspective.”
The ceremony Saturday (Aug. 29) honored religion reporters from around the world. The group is an association for people who write about religion in the news media.
Religion writing “allows us to ask important questions that most other reporters usually ignore, to ask people about their faith lives and to see what really makes them tick,” said Richard Dujardin, former religion reporter for The Providence (R.I.) Journal, who received the William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award. He retired in 2013.
The full list of winners and their winning stories are posted on the Religion Newswriters Association website.
Other winners honored by the group:
Lauren Markoe of Religion News Service won second place for excellence in religion reporting — large newspapers and wire services.
First place for excellence in religion reporting — metropolitan newspapers went to Peter Smith of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Second place was awarded to Lilly Fowler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Kelsey Dallas of Deseret News National won the Cornell Award for Excellence in Religion Reporting — Mid-sized Newspapers. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Peggy Fletcher Stack placed second, and Jennifer Berry Hawes of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., placed third.
In the Cassels Award for Excellence in Religion Reporting — Small Newspapers, first place was awarded to Jennifer Preyss of the Victoria Advocate in Texas. Catherine Godbey of The Decatur (Ala.) Daily came in second place.
First place in the Supple Award for Excellence in Religion Feature Writing went to Ashley Powers for work at The California Sunday Magazine. Yair Rosenberg of Tablet magazine placed second, and Mark Oppenheimer received third place for work at The New York Times and Buzzfeed. Honorable mentions were awarded to Moment magazine’s Nadine Epstein and Michael Orbach.
Kevin Hardy of The Chattanooga Times Free Press received first place in the Gerald A. Renner Award for Excellence in Enterprise Religion Reporting. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Peter Smith won second place, and third place was awarded to CNN’s Moni Basu.
First place for excellence in religion commentary went to Margery Eagan of Crux. Second place was awarded to Yair Rosenberg of Tablet magazine, and Jeffrey K. Salkin placed third for work at Religion News Service. An honorable mention was awarded to Joanna Brooks of Religion Dispatches.
The Schachern Award for Excellence in Online Religion Sections was awarded to CNN Belief.
Second place for excellence in religion news analysis went to John L. Allen Jr. of Crux, and Patricia Miller from Religion Dispatches placed third. An honorable mention was awarded to the staff of The Advocate in Texas.
Eetta Prince-Gibson of Moment magazine placed first in the award for excellence in magazine news religion reporting. Ashley Powers placed second for work at The California Sunday Magazine, and Mark Oppenheimer took third for work at The New York Times Magazine. Bobby Ross Jr. of The Christian Chronicle received an honorable mention.
The award for excellence in magazine overall religion coverage went to Tikkun magazine.
First place for excellence in radio or podcast religion reporting went to Ryan Famuliner and Abigail Keel of KBIA-Columbia, Mo. Dina Weinstein placed second for her freelance work “Making Contact.” Third place was awarded to Laura Kwerel of Interfaith Voices. Ross Reynolds and Matthew Streib of KUOW-Seattle received an honorable mention.
For the excellence in short religion video award, first place went to Alex Ferreira of DOCFilms (Brazil). Sally Morrow of Religion News Service received second place.
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly swept the awards for excellence in television news magazine religion reporting. Fred de Sam Lazaro and Nikki See took first place, Lucky Severson and Trent Harris took second, and Kim Lawton and Patti Jette placed third. An honorable mention was awarded to Judy Valente and Gail Fendley.
The award for excellence in national network/cable news religion reporting went to Mike O’Sullivan of Voice of America.
Jeff Abell and Luke Rollins of WBFF-TV Baltimore received the award for excellence in television local news religion reporting.
The winner of the award for excellence in religion documentary was WGBH and Maya Vision for “Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler.”
The first-place award for excellence in nonfiction religion book was presented to Molly Worthen for “Apostles of Reason.” Second place went to Tim Townsend for “Mission at Nuremberg,” and third place was awarded to Laura Silver for “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food.”
In the student contests, Jill Castellano of the University of Pennsylvania won first place in the Chandler Award for Excellence in Student Religion Reporting. In second place was Simran Jeet Singh of Columbia University, and Alfredo Garcia of Princeton University won third place. Honorable mention was awarded to Corey Stern of the University of Pennsylvania. Russell and M.L. Chandler are the funders of the Chandler Award.
YS/AMB END MILLER