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ENS - Episcopalian journalists honored by Associated Church

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Tue, 27 Apr 2004 13:52:16 -0700

Monday, April 26, 2004

Episcopalian journalists honored by Associated Church Press for 2003 work

By Jan Nunley and Jerry Hames

ENS 042604-2

[ENS] The Episcopal Church's national newspaper, Episcopal Life, and 
Episcopal News Service won 18 awards between them at the 2004 Associated 
Church Press convention, held in Toronto April 18-21. More than 100 
writers, editors, graphic designers, photographers and marketing directors 
attended this year's meeting.

The newspaper's 12 honors included the award of excellence for "Best in 
Class" among national and international newspapers. Among its six honors, 
ENS garnered awards of excellence for feature article for a news service 
and convention coverage, and an honorable mention for overall excellence.

James Solheim, recently retired director of ENS, was given an honorary life 
membership in recognition of his years of service to religious journalism 
and the Associated Church Press.

In addition to the awards ceremony, participants in the annual convention 
honed their skills in a broad variety of workshops and plenary seminars and 
heard from two thought-provoking keynoters: Toronto author and journalist 
[] Irshad Manji and veteran Canadian religion 
journalist Hugh McCullum.

A lost tradition reclaimed

Manji, an openly lesbian Muslim whose bestselling book, The Trouble with 
Islam: A Wake-Up Call for Honesty and Change, has led to threats on her 
life from angry co-religionists, told the assembled Christian journalists 
that Muslims are "desperate and hungry" for something akin to the 
Protestant Reformation. But moderates and liberals in Islam are afraid to 
challenge "extremists and conservatives" on their rigid and literalist 
interpretation of the Qur'an, the Hadith (sayings of the prophet Mohammed) 
and shari'a law, legal opinions collected by Islamic scholars over the 
centuries, she said.

According to Manji, Islam has a deeper tradition of independent reasoning 
known as ijtihad, which allows Muslims to update their religious practice 
in light of contemporary conditions. The burden of reclaiming this lost 
tradition is on Muslims living in the West, she said, since Western 
governments allow freedom of religious expression and most contemporary 
Muslim-led governments do not.

Yet the Islamic world has a role to play as well. "Iraq is the right place 
to call Muslims back" to the ijtihad  tradition, Manji said, since Baghdad 
was the crossroads of commerce and intellectual life in the Muslim world 
when ijtihad was practiced up until the end of the 11th century. What Manji 
called "the incarceration of interpretation" was a response to political 
pressure on the caliphs of the medieval Muslim empire, not a religious 
decision, she said--and therefore, she maintained, its burden can be lifted 
from the shoulders of faithful Muslims.

In a question-and-answer session following her address, Manji told the 
journalists she had received many threats. "But I don't live my life in 
fear," she assured them. "I know that what I'm doing, I'm doing with 

Living in revolutionary times

McCullum, who lived in Africa for 13 years and covered Africa's Great Lakes 
crisis for various international publications and news services, delivered 
a scathing indictment of the role of Christian churches--and the inaction 
of the Christian press--in the Rwandan genocide ten years ago, and a stern 
warning that religion journalists may be missing yet another vital story in 
Africa. "The beautiful hills of Rwanda ran red with blood--blood-drenched 
church compounds filled with corpses all too often killed with the 
complicity of many blood-drenched church leaders," McCullum remembered. "It 
seems 'corporate church' didn't know what to do with genocide which 
involved their own partners, Africans hacking to death their relatives, 
their women, their children. Since Rwanda was 96 percent Christian, the 
church spin doctors couldn't even blame it on Muslim 'terrorists.'

"But, like another great Holocaust, we knew all about it but we didn't do 
anything about it until the end and then, in our liberal guilt, the 
corporate P.R. types flooded the country with dubious 'Christian aid 
agencies' all using Rwanda to raise funds to assuage our inaction," he 
said. "800,000 people butchered in 10 weeks:  compare that with the 
statistics we toss around about the present crisis [in Iraq]. But then, 
that was in Africa and this is the West."

McCullum warned that "there is such a mighty fissure growing within 
Christianity that will cause such huge mutations that our liberal Northern 
version of the faith will simply disappear." He called the phenomenon 
"Third Church"--"highly supernatural, ultra-orthodox and inclined to see 
Jesus as the embodiment of divine power who overcomes the evil forces that 
inflict calamity and sickness on the human race." In the turbulent Africa 
of today and tomorrow, said McCullum, "Third Churches with a strongly 
apocalyptic mindset which triumph on righteousness and a vision of a world 
destroyed by fire and plague could be a perilously convenient ideology...We 
are living in revolutionary times but we have failed to see them or been 
willing or even interested in participating in them."

Best of the Christian press

The ACP honored the "Best of the Christian Press" at its April 20 banquet. 
The first place Award of Excellence for a feature article in a newsletter, 
news service, or website went to ENS's James Solheim for "Anglicans in 
Uganda live their faith in difficult circumstances" (June 18, 2003). 
"Important topic. Very well described; thoughtful analysis," the judges 
said. "Effective use of quotes. Overall, the main strength is the excellent 
depth that truly serves the audience." Solheim also received an honorable 
mention for news story, for "Pope Paul II describes new obstacles to unity" 
(October 8, 2003), and ENS deputy director Jan Nunley received an honorable 
mention for her interview with Bishop Geralyn Wolf in "We are all homeless" 
(February 21, 2003).

The entire ENS staff received an award of excellence for coverage  of the 
aftermath of General Convention during August and September 2003. "With a 
very heavily covered conference, this news service helped get out the 
information in a timely and effective manner. It handled controversy with 
grace," said judges. ENS also received a second place award of merit for 
coverage of the election, consent, and consecration of openly gay New 
Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson. "A strong introduction to the first article 
reflects the high quality of reporting and writing throughout," judges 
remarked. "Reader can quickly grasp what has happened and appreciate the 
significance. Evenhanded reports on a subject that so divides the church 
and society." In addition, the news service received a Best in Class 
honorable mention, with the comment, "An excellent array of well-written 
news backed by a strong selection of photos and a commendable commitment to 
truth in reporting."

The judges said of Episcopal Life: "Beautiful covers draw the reader into a 
wide variety of news, features columns, and reviews. Well-written articles 
expose readers to both local and international concerns. News stories are 
clean and easy to read, while the features pop with a present tense style 
focused on people, not just ideas." The newspaper also received six other 
awards of excellence for top honors in its category and five awards of 
merit or honorable mentions for second and third place.

Among the first place awards was one for its coverage of last year's 
General Convention in Episcopal Life and the Convention Daily. The judges 
said: "This newspaper did a great job in two ways: It promoted the 
conference well with specifics and understandable chunks of information, 
and it reported on the conference well. Both participants and readers at 
home got a lot out of this coverage."

A second place award for written humor went to Garrison Keillor who 
contributed an article to the first issue of Convention Daily: "Enjoy 
Minneapolis - but not too much!"

Jerry Fargo, graphic arts director, won top honors among newspaper entries 
for best design. "Episcopal Life is refreshing and contemporary," the 
judges said. "The graphics and typography are excellent, the use of 
photographs is inventive, and the personality is strong and distinctive. 
This lively and colorful publication is a model of how newspapers should be 
designed. Congratulations!"

Judges also awarded Episcopal Life first place among 24 newspaper entries 
for front page design. "Overall pleasing balance of images, typography and 
white space," they said. "The Table of Contents is organized well, easy for 
the reader to use."

Nan Cobbey, associate editor, received an award of merit for her coverage 
of the enthronement last year of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of 
Canterbury. Several other honors were given to the "Active Voice" section 
of which she is the editor. Of the "Great Ideas" series which won top 
honors for best department, judges said: "All news media would be improved 
if daily newspapers included a 'great idea' department. Especially notable 
is the article "New Take on Nativity," making connections between 
contemporary homelessness and 'no room at the inn' experienced at 
Bethlehem. This article and others in the department, succeeded in a clear, 
tight, professional manner."

Two other writers in that section received awards. Nancy Allen's article 
examining the plight of Haitian refugees held in detention in the U.S. 
received top honors for editorial/opinion, as did Doug LeBlanc's "From the 
Edge" that were judged as best column. Describing his writing, the judges 
said: "Douglas LeBlanc strikes an accessible and reasonable tone as he 
tackles some of our culture's toughest issues. You won't have to agree with 
his conclusions to find yourself thinking that this is a man with whom it 
would be fun to have a long conversation over a cup of coffee."

Freelance writer Diane Walker received a second place award in the feature 
article category for her cover story "Searching for Intimacy" published 
last October. "Valuable insights about human relationships from an 
Episcopal perspective," the judges said.

The letters-to-the-editor columns also won praise and a second place award. 
"Readers feel like they are part of the publication," they said.

Larry Moore, Episcopal Life's marketing manager, received an award of 
excellence for a successful marketing program he executed last year for 
Friends Journal, the Philadelphia Quaker publication for which he had worked.

Episcopalians and Anglicans garnered all the awards in the Newspaper or 
Newsletter Front Page and the Newspaper, Newsletter, News Service or 
Website Design categories. They almost swept the Best in Class category for 
regional newspaper, with the top award going to Central Florida 
Episcopalian (Joe Thoma, editor), followed by Chicago's Anglican Advance 
(David Skidmore, editor) and The Anglican (Stuart Mann, editor), which tied 
for honorable mention.

Other awards to diocesan and Episcopal Church-related publications 
included: Central Florida Episcopalian (Joe Thoma, editor) award of 
excellence for annual report; Soundings, of the Diocese of Minnesota (Susan 
Barksdale, editor), honorable mention, best front page design; Hi-Lites, of 
St. Francis Academy (Norman Carr, editor), third place awards for 
excellence and feature article (newsletter category); 
(John Allen and Nathan Brockman, editors), honorable mention for best 
website; The Episcopal New Yorker (Mary Beth Diss, editor), award of merit 
for best department and award of excellence for media kit "9/11 Spiritual 
Responses" by Neva Rae Fox; The Lookout, of Seamen's Church 
Institute  (Debra Wagner, editor), second place for annual reports; 
Cathedral Age, of Washington National Cathedral, award of excellence for 
magazine design, best story design and honorable mention for best department.

A total of 24 judges with expertise in writing and editing, communications 
training, teaching, book publishing, graphic arts, theology and photography 
judged the entries.

--The Rev. Jan Nunley is deputy director of Episcopal News Service.  Jerry 
Hames is editor of Episcopal Life.

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