By Jeff Huett, APR*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 5, 2014) — At its annual award program to recognize secular media’s coverage of religious issues, values and themes, the Religion Communicators Council handed out 25 Wilbur Awards Saturday, four which were won by CBS News and three by Religion News Service.
CBS earned awards for a March 17, 2013, report titled “The American Nuns” on 60 Minutes; a March 31, 2013, report titled “Keeping the Faith” on CBS Sunday Morning; a June 30, 2013, program titled “What’s So Funny About Religion?” by the CBS Religion & Culture unit; and a Nov. 13, 2013, report titled “The Francis Effect” on CBS This Morning.
The Religion News Service took home each award in the digital communications category. In Faith-Based Blogs, Jonathan Merritt won for his blog, “Jonathan Merritt on Faith & Culture.” Kimberly Winston won the Online News category with “One Woman’s Journey Out of Faith, Family and Fear” and Adelle M. Banks and a team from RNS for their work on “The March” in the Multimedia category.
The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in eight categories. Juries of media professionals, coordinated by council members across the country, evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values.
The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations, longtime council leader and former Presbyterian Church executive.
In the Audiobooks, fiction category, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman and Sue Zizza from SueMedia Productions won for The Fall of the Kings. Mitch Albom, of HarperCollins Publishers, won the Books, fiction, category for The First Phone Call from Heaven. In Books, nonfiction, Dr. Erica Brown earned the Wilbur for her work, Happier Endings, A Meditation on Life and Death by Simon & Schuster publishers. In Books, youth nonfiction, Out in Front: Malala Yousafzai and the Girls of Pakistan published by Morgan Reynolds Publishing and written by David Aretha won the award.
In Feature films, drama, “The Christmas Candle,” by Impact Productions won the Wilbur. In Magazines, national or top-15 markets, “The Homeschool Apostates” by Kathryn Joyce from the November/December 2013 of the The American Prospect won; In Magazines, other markets, “Journey of Humility: Discourses on Faith” by Jeff Chu from the June 5, 2013, issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly took home the prize; and in Magazine articles, online KidSpirit, “Interfaith Connections Column,” by Elizabeth Dabney Hochman won the Wilbur.
In the Newspapers categories, “Healing Newtown,” by G. Jeffrey MacDonald from the March 11, 2013, edition of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly won for national markets; Steve Duin’s columns from The Oregonian – “A Revolution in the City’s Foster Care,” Jan. 10, 2013; “And Our Giving is the Thunder,” April 28, 2013; “For Kelly Clark, redemption,” Dec. 22, 2013 – won in Newspapers, other markets (columns, commentary). In the Newspapers, other markets (articles) category, Betsy Hiel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, won for “Coptic Christians Under Attack.” In Newspapers, online content, Jaweed Kaleem of The Huffington Post won for a three-story package titled “Boston Muslims Respond to Marathon Attacks.”
Other winners, included:
Radio, single program
Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, Tapestry, “The Irascible Pastor,” Mary Hynes, host; Elizabeth Bowie, Diane Eros, Steve McNally, producers, Nov. 22, 2013.
Interfaith Voices. God and Government: Egypt in Crisis, Maureen Fiedler, host; Laura Kwerel, senior producer; Kimberly Adams, reporter.
Television and cable, drama
“The Bible,” Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, executive producers, The History Channel and LightWorkers Media.
Television and cable, TV news
CBS Sunday Morning, “Keeping The Faith,” Michelle Miller, correspondent, Sari Aviv and Lauren Barnello, producers, March 31, 2013.
Television and cable, TV news, network
CBS News, 60 Minutes, “The American Nuns,” Bob Simon, correspondent, Andrew Metz, Tanya Simon, producers, March 17, 2013.
Television and cable, news, national syndication
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, “The Life of Dorothy Day,” Deborah Potter, correspondent, Phil O’Connor, producer, Feb. 8, 2013.
Television and cable, news, local
KSPR-TV, Springfield, Mo., “KSPR’s Journey To Jerusalem,” Jonah Kaplan, reporter/photographer, Bridget Lovelle, producer, Feb. 24-28, 2013.
Television and cable, documentary
CBS Religion and Culture, “What’s So Funny About Religion?” John P. Blessington, executive producer, Elizabeth (Liz) Kineke, producer, June 30, 2013.
Television and cable, made-for-TV movie
“Twist of Faith,” Daniel H. Blatt, Craig Baumgarten and Andrew Howard, executive producers, Lifetime Television.
Television and cable, news, network or national syndication
CBS This Morning, “The Francis Effect,” Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell, hosts, Barbara Simon and Katy Conrad, producers, Nov. 13, 2013.
The deadline for the 2015 Wilbur Awards is February 4, 2015.
About the Religion Communicators Council
The Religion Communicators Council is an interfaith association of more than 400 religion communicators. They work in print and electronic communication, advertising, and public relations. Members represent Bahá’í, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faith communities. Founded in 1929, the council is the oldest public relations professional association in the United States. Join us on Facebook.com/ReligionCommunicatorsCouncil and follow us on Twitter @ReligionComm.
*Jeff Huett, APR, is a member of the RCC Board of Governors and Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, GA.
Photo of Wilbur Award recipients and participants by George Conklin, member of RCC and Project Director for Worldwide Faith News.