Religion Communicators Council honors 20 for work during 2020
NEW YORK — The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) announces 20 Wilbur Award winners to honor excellence by individuals in the secular media for communicating religious issues, values, and themes. On the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, a tumultuous political landscape, and ongoing conversations around racial and social inequality, winning entries of the 2021 Wilbur Awards competition reflect how strength and resilience emerge in the midst of adversity and unrest. These awards were given for work completed in 2020 in the fields of print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and film.
The 2021 Wilbur Award winners highlight stories from across the country, and around the world. For example, a series of articles by the Religion News Service and winner in the online communications category, “Beyond the Most Segregated Hour” investigates the future of segregation and integration in American religion. “No Going Back,” by CBC Radio – Tapestry is a documentary about the thousands of refugees who have found a home and acceptance in the Metropolitan Community Church of Ontario after facing persecution on behalf of their sexual identity. The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell submitted “ON THE ROAD: Virginia Congressional Candidate Heals Political Divide With Compassion,” about how in the face of racism and harmful misconceptions about his faith, a Muslim lawyer and congressional candidate returned a vitriol-filled tweet with compassion and generosity, generating a genuine conversation in good faith and civility.
Other Wilbur winners include The Cork Nativity, a documentary by Bo Media, RTÉ in Ireland; “The Most American Religion,” an article published by The Atlantic; and “Religion in Life: A Conversation with Jim Wallis,” an interview series by Appalachian State University.
Additionally, this year a Special Wilbur Award will be presented to Rev. Dennis C. Benson. As a master storyteller who sees the image of God in every person, and inspires others to do the same, Dennis C. Benson has interviewed more than 15,000 people. His interviews with personalities ranging from Alice Cooper to Fred Rogers to ordinary people have been featured on his radio and television talk shows in the Pittsburgh area over the span of six decades. He was also the producer of the “Passages” radio program for Presbyterian Media Mission for more than 30 years.
The Wilbur program is coordinated by RCC New York Chapter president Ryan Koch. Of the awardees he noted, “I am in awe of the way the awardees were able to communicate religious and inspiring themes with dedication, grace, and sensitivity. It is an honor to associate with professionals such as these, and I look forward to collaborating, coordinating, and communicating with them long into the future.”
The awards ceremony will take place virtually, on Friday, April 9, 2021, during the RCC’s annual convention, Opening New Portals, Building Community, to be held in conjunction with the Associated Church Press (ACP) and the Canadian Christian Communicators Association (CCCA).
The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in seven 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. Each winner will receive individually crafted stained-glass Wilbur trophies.
2021 Wilbur Award winners (for work produced during 2020)
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES print and online
- National or Top 15 metro markets (single article, series of articles, special section, religion page)
- “COVID hits the Church,” (series: “Young priest loses mentor, then his father – both to virus,” Watch video: Young priest loses mentor…; “2 Hispanic churches and too many tears – 100 COVID-19 deaths,” Watch video: 2 Hispanic churches…) Luis Andres Henao, reporter; David Crary, reporter; Jessie Wardarski, video journalist; The Associated Press, New York, New York
- All other markets (single article, series of articles, special section, religion page)
- “How religion is front and center in the heated Georgia Senate runoff races,” Mya Jaradat, reporter; Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah
- “When Christians won’t acknowledge racism, protest becomes church,” Andre Henry, author; Paul O’Donnell, editor; Roxanne Stone, editor; Religion News Service, Columbia, Missouri
MAGAZINE ARTICLES print and online
- National or Top 15 metro markets (single article, series of articles, religion page)
- “The Most American Religion,” McKay Coppins, writer; Denise Wills, editor; Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief; The Atlantic, Vienna, Virginia
- All other markets (single article, series of articles, religion page)
- “In Search of Spirits in Cassadaga,” Moni Basu, writer; Flamingo Magazine, Gainesville, Florida
- The Rumi Prescription, Melody Moezzi, author; Penguin Random House, New York, New York
- For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World, Michael W. Waters, author; Keisha Morris, illustrator; Erin E. Herbert, co-writer of the discussion and activity guide; Darryl Young, Jr., co-writer of the discussion and activity guide; Flyaway Books, Louisville, Kentucky
FILMS AND VIDEO
- Documentary (up to 30 min.)
- 60 Minutes: Critical Condition, Bill Owens, Executive Producer; Tanya Simon, Executive Editor; Scott Pelley, Correspondent; Nicole Young, Producer; Katie Kerbstat Jacobson & Aaron Weisz, Associate Producers; Ian Flickinger, Broadcast Associate; Warren Lustig, Editor; CBS News 60 Minutes, New York, New York
- Documentary (30 min. +)
- Spiritual Audacity: The Abraham Joshua Heschel Story, Martin Doblmeier, producer, director, writer & narrator; Deryl Davis, producer; Carrie Snyder, producer & graphic design; Mark Comberiate, producer, director of photography, & editor; Journey Films, Alexandria, Virginia
- Online News Stories
- “Beyond the Most Segregated Hour” (series: “Multiracial churches growing, but challenging for clergy of color,” “Multiracial Ohio church turns conversations on race into political action,” “Solidarity over segregation: Faith-based coalitions organize across races, religions,” “How the fight for racial justice pushed Charleston beyond the segregated hour”), Adelle M. Banks, writer; Matthew J. Cressler, writer; Religion News Service, New York, New York
- Multimedia or Video
- “Callings: Portraits of Pittsburgh-area faith leaders,” Peter Smith, writer; Nate Guidry, photographer; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TELEVISION & CABLE
- News – network or national syndication (up to 4 min.)
- “The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, ON THE ROAD: Virginia Congressional Candidate Heals Political Divide With Compassion,” Jay Shaylor, Executive Producer; Steve Hartman, Correspondent; Gavin Boyle, Senior Producer; Roxanne Feitel, Producer; CBS News, New York, New York
- News – network or national syndication (4-8 min.)
- “CBS Sunday Morning: A Chance to Dream,” Seth Doane, Correspondent; Sari Aviv, Producer; Steve Tyler, Editor; Rand Morrison, Executive Producer; CBS Sunday Morning, New York, New York
- News – network or national syndication (8 min.+)
- “CBS Sunday Morning: Block by Block,” Lee Cowan, Correspondent; Dustin Stephens, Producer; Carol A. Ross, Editor; Rand Morrison, Executive Producer; CBS Sunday Morning, New York, New York
- Documentary (up to 30 min.)
- The Cork Nativity, Roger Childs, Executive Producer; Derek Nagle, Producer; Patrick O’Shea, Director; Rupert MacCarthy Morrough, Director of Photography; Enya O. Sullivan, Researcher; Donal O. Driscoll, Camera Assistant; Gearoid O’Sullivan, Gaffer; Darren Sheehan, Composer; Bo Media, RTÉ, Cork, Ireland
- Documentary (30 min.+)
- Names, Not Numbers, Dov Rosenberg, Executive Producer; Tova Rosenberg, Creator and Producer; Michael Puro, Director; Names, Not Numbers Inc, New York, New York
- Religion in Life: A Conversation with Jim Wallis, Ozzie Ostwalt, Host; JC Cureton, Producer; Bianca Bortoluzzi and Eric Xhajanka, Camera; Timothy Breaton, Audio; Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
RADIO OR PODCASTS
- Single program
- “Un-HolyLand? An Arab Muslim Reckoning With Racism” Leila Fadel, Reporter; Shereen Marisol Meraji, Editor; Kumari Devarajan, Producer; NPR, Los Angeles, California
- Series of programs (two or more)
- “Unfinished: Short Creek,” Ash Sanders & Sarah Ventre, co-hosts; John Delore & Amy Westervelt, Executive Producers & Editors; Abigail Keel, Senior Producer; Witness Docs from Stitcher and Critical Frequency, New York, New York
- “No Going Back,” Produced by Rosie Fernandez and Trevor Green, with Erin Noel; CBC Radio Tapestry; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Toronto, Ontario, Canada
SPECIAL WILBUR AWARD
- Rev. Dennis C. Benson
About the Religion Communicators Council
The Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.
Contact: Ryan Koch
Wilbur Awards Coordinator