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ENS - Episcopalian journalists honored by Associated Church
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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] 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
[www.muslim-refusenik.com] 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
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); TrinityWallStreet.org
(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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