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2002 RNA Contest Winners

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Religion Newswriters Association announces 2002 award winners

NASHVILLE—The Religion Newswriters Association today announced the winners of its seven contests, awarding more than $8,000 in prizes at its annual Awards Banquet, held at the Hilton Suites Nashville.

All the contests reward excellence in religion reporting in the secular print and broadcast media. Winners were selected from 234 total entries by judges who were all current or former journalists.

G. Jeffrey MacDonald, writing for Religion News Service, won the $3,500 first place Templeton Award for Religion Reporter of the Year. The Templeton Award honors the breadth and depth of a journalist’s skills.

"This journalist’s work reveals the highest level of professional skill and rare imagination that grasps and shapes excellent, insightful stories from material that others might pass over,” judges wrote of MacDonald’s entry. MacDonald’s entries showed he "is relentlessly curious about the world and the people in it, has a powerful instinct for the story, rare analytical power and a concise, effective and unobtrusive prose style.”

First place in the Supple Religion Writer of the Year Award and $1,000 went to Gary Stern of The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. "Here is a writer who has something to say, one whose stories offer depth and perspective,” judges wrote of Stern’s entry. The Supple Award recognizes writing skill on the religion beat.

Carrie A. Moore of The Deseret News in Salt Lake City won first place and $500 in the Cornell Award, which is given to the religion reporter of the year at a mid-sized newspaper. Judges praised her ability "to write on a range of issues…all the stories were ‘good reads.’”

The Cassels Award is given to the religion reporter of the year at newspapers with circulations below 50,000. This year’s first place winner was Judy Totts of The Medina (Ohio) County Gazette. Totts, who won $500, "captured the importance of prayer and faith in our collective response” in an article published the day after Sept. 11, 2001.

Coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks was also a common theme in the Schachern Award. The Schachern contest recognizes excellence in religion sections or pages in three circulation-based categories: Under 50,000; 50,000-150,000; and over 150,000. All winning papers receive a citation.

The Sept. 11 coverage by The Times-News of Twin Falls, Idaho, buoyed it to first-place honors in the small newspaper category. "While many newspapers in all size categories explored religion in the context of the events of Sept. 11, The Times-News was the only paper to pull it off that week with a locally-written story and column plus two pick-ups from news services,” judges wrote about The Times-News, which is edited by Denise Turner.

In the Schachern contest for mid-sized newspapers, The Deseret News, edited by Carrie A. Moore, took top honors. Judges praised this Salt Lake City daily’s "nice mix of stories.” Judges said, "The depth-treatment of timely, issue-oriented events such as the conference on intolerance displays were particularly noteworthy.”

The Schachern Award for large newspapers was awarded to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, edited by Diane Lore. Judges chose the newspaper based on its "well-written features and issue-oriented lead stories featuring a variety of religions, many of which displayed a degree of timeliness that is sometimes lacking in stories for religion sections.”

For the first time, RNA awarded prizes in radio and television. The RNA Radio Award and $500 was given to Adam Phillips for his work at Voice of America.

"The listener is soul touched…a sound master and perfect sound bites selector, Phillips’ weaving of words and natural sound provides a showcase for the American spirit in all its glory,” judges said.

The inaugural RNA Television Award was split into national and local categories. The national prize went to Deryl Davis of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. The professional look and Davis’ "sensibility and sensitivity” helped Davis’ entry stand out, judges said. The local television prize was awarded to Dan Howell of Fox 61 News in Chattanooga, Tenn. Howell’s sense of story selection and an "informativeness to the viewing audience” was a hallmark of this winning entry, judges said. Each of the television winners received $500.

 



2002 RNA Contest winners
(for work done in 2001)

Cassels Award for Excellence in Religion Reporting
  • First: Judy Totts, The Medina (Ohio) County Gazette
  • Second: Katherine K. Lee, The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News
  • Third: Gloria LaBounty, The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle
Cornell Award for Excellence in Religion Reporting
  • First: Carrie A. Moore, The (Salt Lake City) Deseret News
  • Second: Allison Askins, The (Columbia, S.C.) State
  • Third:  Bob Mims, The Salt Lake Tribune
Radio Excellence in Religion Reporting
  • Adam Phillips, Voice of America
Schachern for Excellence in Religion Pages and Sections
  • Under 50,000 circulation: The (Twin Falls, Idaho) Times-News, Denise Turner, section editor
  • 50,000-150,000 circulation: The (Salt Lake City) Deseret News, Carrie A. Moore, section editor
  • Over 150,000 circulation: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Diane Lore, section editor
Supple Award for Religion Writer of the Year
  • First: Gary Stern, The (White Plains, N.Y.) Journal News
  • Second: Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
  • Third: David Waters, The Commercial Appeal
Television Excellence in Religion Reporting
  • Local: Dan Howell, Fox 61 News, Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • National: Deryl Davis, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly
Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year
  • First: G. Jeffrey MacDonald,writing for Religion News Service
  • Second: Mark O’Keefe, Newhouse News Service
  • Third: Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

 

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