NCR honored with 11 first place awards in CPA contest

 |  NCR Today

National Catholic Reporter took home first place in the “General Excellence” category among national Catholic newspapers for the 15th time in 16 years in the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada’s contest.

“Fearless reporting in the tradition of excellent community journalism coupled with clear, strong writing make this paper a model of professional American journalism focused on the Catholic community,” the judges wrote in their comments for the General Excellence category. “Bad and sad news remains newsworthy and this paper seems to operate on the sunshine principle: exposing ills to the sunlight is the first step to healing.”

NCR won 26 awards, including 11 in first place, in the annual contest. The awards, which covered material published in 2015, were announced during the 2016 Catholic Media Conference June 3-5 in St. Louis.

NCR was recognized for its strong news writing and investigative analysis. Global Sisters Report staff writer Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, GSR national correspondent Dan Stockman and NCR Vatican correspondent Joshua J. McElwee took first place in Best News Writing on a national event with their coverage of the end of the Vatican investigations of U.S. women religious.

Also, McElwee, along with NCR staff writer Brian Roewe, former Bertelsen intern Soli Salgado, and senior analyst Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, took first place in Best News Writing on an international event with their coverage of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

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Salgado, who is now a staff writer for GSR, also took first place in the Best Investigative News Writing category with her piece on the sexual abuse investigations of theologian John Howard Yoder. NCR also took third place in that category with contributor Jack Ruhl’s in-depth look at flaws in diocesan financial management.

Contributor Paul Murray earned first place in the Best Feature Writing category with his piece on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Selma, Ala. Salgado took second place in that category with her feature on the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the families there that have shaped Francis’ papacy.

NCR editorial staff also took first and second place in the Best Editorial category, for “Readers’ action required: Get behind common-sense agenda on guns” and “2015 could be the year we save the earth,” respectively.

McElwee also led NCR’s coverage on the 2015 Synod of the Family, garnering a first place in that category. NCR earned second place in the Best Coverage of the Papal Visit to Cuba and the U.S. and took third place in the Best Coverage of Immigration, with reporting from Stockman and NCR contributors Megan Sweas and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy.

Salgado and former NCR national correspondent Vinnie Rotondaro also took second place in the Best Analysis News Writing category for their reports on gun violence. Roewe placed third in the Best In-Depth News category for his piece on the arrival of the environmental encyclical amid a tough time for the coal industry.

NCR’s Opinion & Arts section earned numerous awards. In the Best Regular Column on spiritual life, NCR’s Soul Seeing column, shepherded by Michael Leach, earned first place. In the Best Regular Column on culture, the arts and leisure, Daughter of St. Paul Sr. Rose Pacatte and Precious Blood Br. Antonio D. Sison took second place and honorable mention, respectively, for their movie reviews in NCR. Columnist Melissa Musick Nussbaum took second place in the Best Regular Column on family life.

NCR also earned an honorable mention for the Best Multiple Picture Package with “A story told in stone and light” by layout editor Toni-Ann Ortiz.

Several NCRonline.org contributors were also honored, with the NCR Today blog taking first place in the Best Blog by a publication, followed by Eco Catholic in second place.

“Addressed potentially controversial topics and encouraged Catholics to be open minded and approach contemporary problems with both faith and intellect,” the judges wrote about the NCR Today blog. “Posts were informative, thought provoking and timely.”

In the Best Blog by a layperson, NCR books editor Jamie L. Manson took first for her Grace on the Margins blog, and contributor Michael Sean Winters earned third place for his Distinctly Catholic blog.

NCR bloggers cleaned up the category of Best Blog by religious or clergy, with first-place winner St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk for “Simply Spirit,” second-place winner Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister for “From Where I Stand,” and third-place winner Mercy Sr. Camille D’Arienzo for “Conversations with Sr. Camille.”

At the CPA Book Awards, NCR editor-at-large Tom Roberts placed second in the Biography category for his book Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith.

The full listing of awards and judges’ comments are below.


A08b: BEST BLOG: Publication Blog

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

NCR Today” by NCR Staff and Contributors

Covered a wide range of topics. Provided appropriate degree of background information/depth/analysis to posts. Addressed potentially controversial topics and encouraged Catholics to be open minded and approach contemporary problems with both faith and intellect. Posts were informative, thought provoking, and timely.

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

Eco Catholic” by NCR Staff and Contributors

While the topics largely focused on environmental issues (as the name “Eco” suggests) there was still wide variety within this subject. Addressed pressing global issues that are often omitted from faith dialogues. Were both informative and a call to action, and had a global perspective.

 

A08c: BEST BLOG: By Layperson

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Grace on the Margins” by Jamie L. Manson

Strong variety in subject matter. Manages to both have professional voice and tone and come off as approachable, funny, and down to earth. Well organized. Ensures that readers are being exposed to a wide range of perspectives, even though she is the sole author, by citing various opinions, detailing arguments made by numerous people, etc. There were not an overwhelming number of posts, as some other blogs had. It was clear she only covered topics she was interested in and that were meaningful to the Catholic community and did not write just to fill space.

Third Place

National Catholic Reporter

Distinctly Catholic” by Michael Sean Winters

Provided meaningful insight into 2016 presidential election and other major political news that will affect Catholics and the population at-large. There is limited variety, but since his bio explains that his specialty is politics, it seems that this is intentional and the blog is meant to serve a very specific purpose. Organization was clear and easy to follow.

 

A08d: BEST BLOG: By Religious/Clergy

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Simply Spirit” by Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ

Has a strong focus on current events, social progress, and issues facing women in the Catholic community and around the world. Posts are timely and have an international scope, while also focusing on local issues when they are important.

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

From Where I Stand” by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB

Only six posts in year. While there is some variety in the posts, they are not highly relevant or attention grabbing. The writing was strong.

Third Place

National Catholic Reporter

Conversations with Sr. Camille” by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo, RSM

The content addresses a lot of local news for the New York area. It was not as strong as blogs that touch on a wider variety of issues, but it was still a top three. They were in the format of interviews, so only the questions actually came from the author getting credit for the blog. While she may have edited some responses, it is hard to judge writing quality when the bulk of it is from other people.

 

N03b: BEST NEWS WRITING ORIGINATING WITH THE PAPER ON NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL EVENT: National Event, National Newspaper or Wire Service

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Coverage of investigations of US sisters” by Dawn Cheri Araujo, Joshua J. McElwee and Dan Stockman

Very strong and thorough package, covering all of the important angles in a reader-friendly way. Prominence and space provided demonstrates commitment to covering the topic.

 

N03d: BEST NEWS WRITING ORIGINATING WITH THE PAPER ON NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL EVENT: International Event, National Newspaper or Wire Service

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Coverage of Laudato Si’ ” by Joshua J. McElwee, Thomas Reese, Brian Roewe, Soli Salgado, and NCR Staff

The series of articles chronicling information about and responses to the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si, are comprehensive, interesting and very readable. The writing includes a good variety of approaches from interviews to graphs to narratives providing researched factual information as well as human interest stories.

 

N04b: BEST INVESTIGATIVE/ANALYSIS NEWS WRITING: Investigative News Writing, National Newspaper or Wire Service

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Yoder case extends to Notre Dame” by Soli Salgado

Reporter did an excellent job of digging up facts and painting a picture of a sexual abuse scandal that dates back decades. Stories put a new spin on the case as a church community comes to terms with it and acknowledges the victims while another appears to continue to bury its head in the sand. It’s obvious from the reporting that an exhaustive records search was used to recreate the case and report on the lingering fallout. Informative sidebar piece on why the case is being reported again at this time lends credence to the story.

Third Place

National Catholic Reporter

Survey finds serious flaws in diocesan financial management” by Jack Ruhl

Reporter took a potentially dry financial topic to present an easy to comprehend story a potential crisis due to underfunded pension plans for priests. The story is backed by considerable data that resulted from good, old-fashioned and seemingly laborious reviews of financial documents. A numbers story with some life.

 

N04d: BEST INVESTIGATIVE/ANALYSIS NEWS WRITING: Best Analysis/ Background/Round-Up New Writing: The Gerard E. Sherry Award for Diocesan Newspaper or Wire Service

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

“Analysis of gun violence” by Soli Salgado, Vinnie Rotondaro

Reporter tackles a timely topic: gun violence and how to control it. The solid reporting is bolstered by highly pertinent statistical data and a detailed explanation of various sides of the gun control debate.

 

N05b: BEST IN-DEPTH NEWS/SPECIAL REPORTING: National Newspaper or Wire Service

Third Place

National Catholic Reporter

What’s happening after coal?” by Brian Roewe

A thorough and insightful presentation that puts the fallout from the Pope’s letter on the environment in important context.

 

N07e: BEST EDITORIAL ON A NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL ISSUE: National Newspaper

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Readers’ action required: Get behind common-sense agenda on guns” by NCR Editors

The salience and urgency of the topic of gun violence and how to address it is forcefully made in this editorial. Well-researched facts and realistic scenarios spell out the dangers inherent in current policies providing easy access to guns. The statistical comparison to Vietnam casualties and gun casualties is particularly striking.

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

2015 could be the year we save the earth” by NCR Editors

The “Francis Effect” is assumed by many. This editorial is a thoughtful and balanced response to the actions and words of Pope Francis and it names areas still needing exploration: namely, the role of women in the church and the church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis. The argument to elevate the pope to “person of the year” because of the overwhelming evidence of the pope’s effect on other important church concerns and issues is well made and a timely approval of the direction of this papacy and the church’s progress.

 

N09e: BEST FEATURE WRITING: National Newspaper or Wire Service

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Features of Selma march” by Paul Murray

The writing in this outstanding piece of journalism recreates the intensity, power and historical significance of the Selma march through the heroic actions of Catholic priests and nuns despite danger and exhaustion. Use of sidebars further enhances the presentation by focusing on individuals without breaking into the narrative of the main story. A truly remarkable story told in a truly remarkable way.

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

Radiating with life” by Soli Salgado

Walk the narrow, drug littered path through one of Argentina’s infamous slums behind Archbishop Bergoglio and readers of this powerful and well-documented story get an indepth understanding of not only the despair and hope of residents, but of the efforts to dispel despair and instill hope there and world wide by Bergoglio after becoming Pope Francis. This piece rightfully digs into the muck of Villa 21, but also rightfully shows the strength and successes of those who must somehow climb out of the shame of their residence. That’s a tough combination, but this article rises to the challenge.

 

N11a: BEST REGULAR COLUMN: Culture, the Arts, and Leisure

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

“‘Movies’ Columns” by Rose Pacatte

Good package that offered a welcome mix of commentary and spiritual insight. Thought the reflections in the “Spotlight” review were especially well handled.

Honorable Mentions

National Catholic Reporter

“‘Movies’ Columns” by Antonio D. Sison

 

N11b: BEST REGULAR COLUMN: Spiritual Life

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Soul Seeing” by Michael Leach, Tom Smith, Patrick Jephson

These were interesting, provocative columns that were heartfelt but not self-absorbed or trite. The reflections after the Paris attacks were especially gripping and well presented. These writers struggled with difficult themes/topics and delivered.

 

N11e: BEST REGULAR COLUMN: Family Life

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

Musick Nessbaum Columns” by Melissa Musick Nussbaum

Excellent writing throughout! Very compelling. Nice job.

 

N15b: BEST MULTIPLE PICTURE PACKAGE ORIGINATING WITH A NEWSPAPER:

Honorable Mentions

National Catholic Reporter

A story told in stone and light” by Toni-Ann Ortiz

Very interesting photos. Good photography

 

N29: BEST COVERAGE OF IMMIGRATION

Third Place

National Catholic Reporter

“Coverage of Immigration” by Megan Sweas, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Dan Stockman

Compelling set of stories that link together nicely. Fine writing and dramatic photos hold the reader. The article on the Italian church’s efforts to aid the refugees brought an element of hope to an otherwise tragic situation.

 

N36e: GENERAL EXCELLENCE: National Newspaper

First Place

National Catholic Reporter by NCR Staff and Contributors

The National Catholic Reporter was full of well reported articles that focused on real life issues like immigration and climate change. Their choice of topics was impressive and their use of color and graphics made this paper aesthetically pleasing to read. The editorial section was particularly strong. Fearless reporting in the tradition of excellent community journalism coupled with clear, strong writing make this paper a model of professional American journalism focused on the Catholic community. In addition to a fundamental affection for the Catholic Church, the paper’s stories strive for accuracy, balance, and fairness to sources. Bad and sad news remains newsworthy and this paper seems to operate on the sunshine principle: exposing ills to the sunlight is the first step to healing. The broad sweep of its news gathering warrants regular reading by those who desire to stay abreast of events and ideas in the American Catholic community.

 

N37b: BEST COVERAGE OF THE 2015 SYNOD ON THE FAMILY: National Newspaper or Wire Service

First Place

National Catholic Reporter

Coverage of 2015 Synod on Family” by Joshua J. McElwee, Don Lambert

The first story, written in first-person, is kind of an outside-the-box submission for a category called “Best Coverage.” Still, it was a compelling story that touched the emotions. It served as a great discussion-starter for the Synod. The other two articles were excellent demonstrations of newswriting: multiple sources, great interviewing, research, observation, inverted-pyramid storytelling and overall excellent writing and editing. These were longer-form stories than what many readers of today are able to digest, but the use of subheads in the stories were effective in keeping me engaged. All three entries were superbly written and edited, and all of them led to deeper understanding of the topics addressed in the Synod.

 

N42b: BEST COVERAGE OF THE PAPAL VISIT TO CUBA AND THE U.S.: National Newspaper or Wire Service

Second Place

National Catholic Reporter

Coverage of Papal Visit to Cuba and the U.S.” by NCR staff, Alice Popovici, Dennis Coday

Carries out an interesting approach to the coverage: organizing by key statements made by Pope Francis. This makes it easy to follow and meaty, though it could have done more to capture the drama of the visit itself. Solid effort.

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June 16-29, 2017

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