Some of the 2021 coverage from the National Catholic Reporter and EarthBeat that won awards from Catholic Media Association (NCR screenshots)
The National Catholic Reporter and EarthBeat were recognized with 34 awards from the Catholic Media Association for their coverage of politics, papal trips, the pandemic, immigration, the U.S. bishops' conference and the environment, as well as for investigative reporting and in-depth news writing. In addition, Global Sisters Report (GSR) won nine honors from the association, which announced the awards July 7 during its convention in Portland.
NCR won third place honors for its website and in the national newspaper category. Judges for the latter called the print edition "hard hitting" and "to the point."
First place writing and reporting awards included ones for coverage of U.S. bishops' fall meeting by News Editor Joshua McElwee and Staff Writer Brian Fraga, which judges called "exceptional," and for Environment Correspondent Brian Roewe's coverage of the international environmental conference COP26. Political columnist Michael Sean Winters' "Distinctly Catholic" column took first place honors in the political column category. Judges praised Winters' "uniquely inclusive approach" and his "ability to defend values while not vilifying others."
NCR won three awards in the investigative writing category: Two awards went to then-National Correspondent Christopher White for his pieces on the U.S. bishops' Biden working group (first) and Catholic funding of voter suppression (honorable mention), and to freelancer John Gehring for his dive into reaction to conservative funding at the University of Notre Dame (third).
In categories for topical coverage, NCR writers and editors won first place honors for coverage of politics and papal trips, with an honorable mention for coverage of immigration and the pandemic. GSR also received third place honors for its coverage of the pandemic. Papal trip coverage was by former Vatican correspondent McElwee and current correspondent White. Political coverage included pieces by the editors, Fraga and freelance essayists Fran Ferder and John Heagle. Immigration coverage was by Winters, former Latino Catholic fellow Melissa Cedillo and contributor Yunuen Trujillo, while NCR pandemic stories were by the editors and freelancers Eduardo Campos Lima and Alexander Thompson.
For best reporting on the social justice issue of care for God's creation, EarthBeat nearly swept the category, with first place (Campos Lima on illegal gold mining in the Amazon); second place (Global Sisters Report's series on sisters working for a "just transition"); third place (Whitney Bauck's essay on fast fashion); and an honorable mention (Nushin Huq's report on urban heat islands in Houston). Roewe also earned second place for analysis/background/round-up news for his overview of the movement to divest from fossil fuels.
White also won a first place award for his profile of Luis Miranda, while Roewe's profile of Hazel Johnson earned honorable mention. Third place honors in the international event category went to Fraga for his international story about veterans' reaction to the Afghanistan withdrawal and Cedillo won third place in reporting on social justice issues for a story about Los Angeles garment workers fighting for fair wages.
A series of essays and videos in which Catholic politicians, activists and scholars offered advice to new President Joe Biden, called Building a Common Future, took second place for best multimedia package about social justice issues. That series also won for best layout in the print edition, with credit to Art Director/Digital Media Specialist Toni-Ann Ortiz.
NCR editorials also earned three awards, for editorials about the a Vatican decree on gay unions (second place), voter suppression and the Jan. 6 insurrection (honorable mentions).
NCR's daily e-newsletter, written by Managing Editor Stephanie Yeagle, took second place in that category. Executive Editor Heidi Schlumpf's column, "NCR Connections," received third for general commentary.
A joint project of Global Sisters Report and EarthBeat, called "An estate plan for the Earth," received honorable mention as a multimedia feature package. GSR then-Staff Writer Soli Salgado (now GSR's Latin American correspondent) won two second place awards for pandemic-related reporting about how sisters are helping renters amid a housing crisis and how sisters ministered to seafarers during the pandemic.
(NCR photo/Teresa Malcolm)
Other GSR awards included second place for a photo story by Salgado and photographer Lisa Elmaleh about migration at the U.S. border; second place for freelancer Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans' report about aging and the "Nun Study"; and St. Joseph of Peace Sr. Susan Francois' general commentary column "Inaugurating beloved-ness," which received an honorable mention. GSR National Correspondent Dan Stockman won third for reporting on life and dignity of the human person for his profile of a sister who accompanied two men on death row, and was recognized for his profile of Sr. Simone Campbell, former executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby Network.
Honorable mentions for in-depth/special reporting went to Fraga for stories about dioceses' lack of readiness for the synodal process and about Pope Francis' letter to an LGBT group. McElwee also had two honorable mentions for analysis reporting for his curtain-raiser ahead of the pope's historic 2021 trip to Iraq and for reaction to the Vatican's warning to U.S. bishops about denying Communion to pro-choice politicians. White also had an honorable mention for his feature on how Sept. 11 inadvertently paved the way for the election of Pope Francis.
The Francis Effect podcast, with hosts Schlumpf, Fr. Daniel Horan and David Dault, received an honorable mention for the best podcast about topical news. Earlier this year, the podcast earned a Wilbur Award from the Religious Communicators Council.