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Retired NCR publisher, editor Tom Fox wins Bishop John England Award from Catholic Press Association

Friday, June 23, 2017  
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Thomas C. Fox, retired publisher and editor of National Catholic Reporter, received the Bishop John England Award on June 22 from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

Presented annually, the award recognizes publishers in the Catholic press for the defense of First Amendment rights, such as freedom of the press and freedom of religion. It is the CPA’s highest award for publishers.

“No one deserves this honor more than Tom Fox,” said Caitlin Hendel, NCR’s current publisher. “For decades, Tom worked diligently to provide a voice for the voiceless. He wrote tirelessly of people and issues that were otherwise ignored. He fought steadfastly for truth. I only wish more journalists would view their work as a ‘mission.’ ”

“Journalism has always been a sacred mission for me,” Fox said during his acceptance speech. He said that mission began for him in Vietnam, where, after a stint as a humanitarian aid worker, he became a journalist, writing for The New York Times, Time magazine and NCR among other publications. That mission “has continued through my career, most fittingly at NCR for over 35 years,” he said.

Fox joined NCR as editor in 1980 and became publisher in 1997, a position he held until in 2004. After a short period in retirement, Fox returned as editor in 2008 and was named publisher again in 2011 after the untimely death of the publisher Joe Feuerherd. Fox retired in January 2016.

Fox was instrumental in developing NCR’s uniquely independent voice. He foresaw the importance of environmental issues as far back as the 1980s when he introduced the writings of Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry and other eco-theologians that have proven foundational to current environmental thought. Fox made environmental reporting a key component of NCR’s news coverage, long before the publication of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

Fox also led NCR’s coverage of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the mid-1980s, some 15 years before the topic became widely reported.

“Fox was determined to report the story of the abuse of children by clergy, and he saw his first duty to tell the truth of the victims,” said NCR Editor Dennis Coday. “To do this meant enduring a hostile director of the NCR board, readers who cancelled subscriptions and institutional leaders who ridiculed or dismissed NCR’s coverage. Fox’s stand is a proud moment in freedom of the Catholic press.”

The Bishop John England Award is named for the Irish-born bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, who founded a newspaper, The Catholic Miscellany, in 1822. The Miscellany is still in operation. As publisher of the newspaper, Bishop England defended separation of church and state, saying it was good for both entities. He also espoused freedom of religion.

Fox noted that his journalism career and NCR were born to spread the “fresh winds” of the Second Vatican Council, especially the council’s emphasis on the duties and responsibilities of the laity. “NCR has had a decades’ long penchant for telling stories of the marginalized – both outside and inside the church. Editors have come and gone; publishers as well. But NCR’s spirit, values and mission – professional, independent Catholic journalism – has remained intact.”

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The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company is a Kansas City, Mo.-based independent news source. Founded in 1964, NCR offers news, commentary and analysis of the church in the United States and the world. NCR is not affiliated with any official arm of the Roman Catholic Church, and its print newspaper and website, NCRonline.org, have received many awards, including multiyear recognition of general excellence from the Catholic Press Association. Its other publications include Celebration, a liturgical planning resource for parishes, and Global Sisters Report, a reporting project focusing on Catholic sisters funded by a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Contact

Sara Wiercinski
swiercinski@ncronline.org
(816) 968-2236


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