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AAR Announces Winners of 2018 Best In-Depth Newswriting on Religion Contest

July 16, 2018                                                                                     

Contact: Steve Herrick

AAR Recognizes Journalists for Best In-Depth Newswriting on Religion

Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor, placed first in the 2018 American Academy of Religion (AAR) Best In-Depth Newswriting on Religion contest; Jack Jenkins, national reporter for Religion News Service, second; and Kelsey Dallas, faith writer for Deseret News, third.

“Since 2000, we have honored news writers who engage diverse, well-written, well-researched topics on religion,” commented AAR Executive Director Alice Hunt. “This year the AAR is pleased to recognize these three journalists who have written about some of the prominent religion news stories of 2017.”

Jurors described Burke’s winning articles on the mysteries, complexities and divisiveness of religion involving Neil Gorsuch’s background, Roy Moore, LGBT rights, and the debate between moral evil and natural evil as “solid, relative issues”. This is “good reporting with a variety of sources. They are the work of someone who honed their craft, skills and knowledge for religion today.”

Jack Jenkins presented “a smart, varied thematic approach to an issue at the heart of the national conversation — the resurgence of white nationalism,” commented one juror. He approached the topic through the lenses of faith, history, Trump, the Charlottesville protest and the presence of white nationalism in church pulpits. Jurors appreciated Jenkins’ strong research and writing skills and “focus on dominant religion news story of our day.”

Kelsey Dallas submitted “a well-sourced, thoughtful set of articles, all of which engage different dimensions of religion in the public sphere,” stated a juror. Focusing on religion in the US military, US foreign policy, and the US domestic legal and political order, jurors described her work as “nuanced reporting on three subjects that rarely get this kind of treatment” and as a “creative collection showing range and a nose for how to develop a story around an issue.”       

Each journalist submitted three to five articles published in 2017. The first-place winner receives $1,000; second-place, $500; and third-place, $250, which will be awarded at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting in Denver, CO during the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion (CPUR) session November 17, 2018. The names of the contestants and media outlet information were removed prior to judging.

The jury make-up included Evan Berry, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, American University, and member of  CPUR; Michelle Boorstein, religion reporter for the Washington Post; and Jaweed Kaleem, national race and justice correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

Founded in 1909, the AAR is the world’s largest association of religion scholars with some 8,000 members in North America and abroad. The mission of the AAR is to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.