The Religion Communicators Council announced 22 Wilbur Award winners March 4. The awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – in communicating religious issues, values and themes during 2015.

Vanity Fair magazine; Religion Dispatches, a secular online magazine; and NPR are to receive individually crafted stained-glass Wilbur trophies for 2015 reports on the pontiff.

Other Wilbur winners come from diverse media outlets such as The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Slate, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee) and WFAA-TV, Dallas.

The 2015 awards are to be presented April 2 in New York City during the council’s 87th annual national convention.

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.

2016 Wilbur Award winners (for work produced during 2015):

Newspaper Articles: National or Top 15 Metro Markets

  • “China’s Crackdown on Crosses,” Didi Tang, writer; The Associated Press

Newspaper Articles: All Other Markets

  • “Series of Religious Articles,” Betsy Hiel, Middle East correspondent; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Newspaper Articles: Commentary, Blog, or Column

  • “Faith Matters” columns, David Waters, writer; The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

Magazine Articles: National or Top 15 Metro Markets

  • “Our Man in the Vatican,” Paul Elie, writer, David Friend, editor; Vanity Fair Magazine

Magazine Articles: All Other Markets

  • “Falling in Love with the Earth: Francis’ Faithful Ecology,” Jacob J. Erickson, writer; Religion Dispatches

Magazine Articles: Commentary, Blog, or Column

  • “Saint Fred,” Jonathan Merritt, author; The Atlantic Magazine

Books: Non-Fiction

  • Grounded: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution, Diana Butler Bass, writer; HarperOne an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Feature Films: Documentary (30 minutes or longer)

  • “The Armor of Light,” Abigail E. Disney, director; Kathleen Hughes co-director and producer, Eva Anisko, producer; Purple Mickey Productions in association with Fork Films

Digital Communications: Faith-Based Blogs

  • “Christians, Conflict, and Change,” David Gushee, writer; Religion News Service

Digital Communications: Online News Stories

  • “How an Evangelical Creationist Accepted Evolution,” Rachel Gross, writer; Slate

Digital Communications: Multimedia

  • “How the Ultimate Scandal Saved One Pastor,” John Blake; CNN

Television & Cable: Network News or National Syndication (up to 8 minutes)

  • “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley: Football Nun,” Steve Capus, executive producer: Dean Reynolds, correspondent; Kim Godwin, senior broadcast producer; Wendy Krantz, producer; Larry Goldfine, editor

Television & Cable: Network News or National Syndication (8 minutes or longer)

  • “CBS Sunday Morning: The Girl in the Picture,” Jane Pauley, correspondent: Mary Lou Teel; producer, Lauren Barnello, producer/editor; Rand Morrison, executive producer

Television & Cable: Public Broadcasting (up to 8 minutes)

  • “Rancher Nuns,” Lucky Severson, correspondent; Trent Harris, producer; Arnie Labaton, executive producer; Bob Abernethy, host; Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Television & Cable: Public Broadcasting (8 minutes or longer)

  • “CHAPLAINS,” Martin Doblmeier, producer/director; Ellen Tripler, Nathan DeWild, producers; Journey Films, American Public Television

Television & Cable: News – Local

  • “Reverse Food Truck,” David Schechter, reporter; Taylor Lumsden, camera operator; Brian Hardcastle, chief editor; WFAA-TV/ABC, Dallas, TX

Television & Cable: Documentary (up to 30 minutes)

  • “Marriage, Religion, and Modern Life,” John P. Blessington, senior executive producer; Elizabeth Kineke, executive producer; CBS Religion & Culture

Television & Cable: Documentary (30 minutes or longer)

  • OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, “Belief,” Oprah Winfrey, Sheri Salata, David Shadrack Smith, and Jonathan Sinclair, executive producers

Television & Cable: Made-for-TV Movie

  • Saints and Strangers, Part 1, from National Geographic Channel; Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo, Teri Weinberg, Eric Overmyer, and Seth Fisher, executive producers; Peter McAleese, producer; Paul A. Edwards, director; Chip Johannessen, Walon Green, Eric Overmyer, Seth Fisher, writers

Television & Cable: Interview

  • “SuperSoul Sunday: Jimmy Carter interviewed by Oprah Winfrey,” Tara Montgomery, executive producer; Jenna Kostelnik, Amy Ward, and Eric Peltier, co-executive producer; OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

Radio or Podcasts: Single Program

  • “Israel’s Newest TV Stars: Nice Jewish Boys From a Synagogue Near You,” Laura Kwerel, senior producer, Interfaith Voices

Radio or Podcasts: Series of Programs (2 or more)

  • “NPR: Pope Francis, Catholicism and His visit to Cuba and the US,” Andrea Bruce, editor; National Public Radio

About the Religion Communicators Council

Founded in 1929, the Religion Communicators Council is the oldest public relations professional association in the United States. The council has more than 400 members and six regional chapters. Members represent Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish organizations and work in advertising, print and electronic communication, and public relations.

Contact: Shirley Struchen, or 212-870-2402.

Recent Posts

October 2021: RCC members and friends news

October 2021: RCC members and friends news

Welcome to our monthly round-up of news about RCC members and friends! In addition to mentions in our monthly Update e-newsletter, we will feature news in greater detail about our members and friends on RCC's website. This post includes condolences, congratulations,...

read more