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Issue Date:  June 16, 2006

NCR takes top award for seventh year


The National Catholic Reporter has won the first-place general excellence award for national newspapers from the Catholic Press Association for the seventh year in a row. The paper also took seven other first place awards for writing and editorials and 11 second place, third place and honorable mention awards in various categories.

The judges said of NCR, “The winner by a mile.” NCR “provides courageous, incisive, well-written coverage on the issues of the day. NCR serves not only Catholics well, but readers of all faiths in providing an interesting and provocative view of its community.” Judging was done by the American Press Institute.

The awards were announced May 26 at the 2006 Catholic Media Convocation in Nashville, Tenn.

In the national newspaper category for general excellence, The Catholic Register in Toronto won second place and the National Catholic Register in North Haven, Conn., took third.

NCR received first place for best editorial on a national or international issue in a national newspaper for its Oct. 28 editorial “The sin must be named.” The editorial called on bishops across the country to appoint panels of respected Catholics and give them access to all files and records pertaining to sexual abuse by clergy and church employees. The editorial said the panels should construct “as detailed a narrative as possible -- without violating confidences or naming priests who have not been credibly accused -- of what occurred in each local church. Then the community will know what to forgive. … Without that step [full disclosure], the path to the future remains blocked.” The judges commented, “The editorial is strong yet reasonable and it makes a bold plea for accountability … a superb job of persuasive writing.”

NCR also took third place for editorial writing for its May 20, 2005, editorial on the firing of Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese as editor of America magazine.

Other awards for NCR were:

  • Best news writing for a national event for Ralph Cipriano’s “Grand jury findings” about the special grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese.
  • Best news writing for an international event for Christopher Ringwald’s “Uganda: A war on children.”
  • Best special issue or supplement covering the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The judges said where NCR “stood out was in its volume of coverage, especially original stories on a wide range of issues beyond the basic story about the death of a pontiff, including how a new pope would be elected, who the leading candidates were, a look at the pope’s mixed legacy and what the future may hold for the church. Add to that lots of good commentary, a look at the new pope from all angles, generous use of photos, and an active Web site featuring frequently updated staff stories.” NCR “was at the head of a very competitive pack.”
  • Best seasonal issue, for NCR ’s 2005 Christmas edition, which the judges termed “exceptional.” They wrote: “The Christmas stories from around the world put our individual Christmases in context. … It is clear that skilled editing drove this edition, both conceptually and in the quality of the stories.”
  • Chris Herlinger took second place in the international news category for reporting on Darfur. Herlinger also won the Eileen Egan Award, given by Catholic Relief Services for excellence in international reporting. The team of Russell Morse, Mary Harvan Gorgette, Raj Jayandev and Tom Heneghan took third place in the international news category for reporting on racial riots in France. These stories were produced in collaboration with New America Media.
  • Best feature writing in a national newspaper for NCR editor Tom Roberts’ “No easy travels” about his trip to Israel with Rabbi Yehiel E. Poupko.
  • Best regular column, general commentary for Colman McCarthy.
  • Benedictine Sr. Linda Romey took two third place awards for NCR circulation promotion.

Diocesan newspapers winning first-place general excellence awards were The Catholic Spirit, St. Paul, Minn., 40,001-plus circulation; The Colorado Catholic Herald, Colorado Springs, Colo., 17,001-40,000 circulation; and Hawaii Catholic Herald, Honolulu, circulation up to 17,000.

Robert Ellsberg’s Blessed Among All Women captured first place for popular presentation of the Catholic faith in the Catholic Press Association’s annual book awards. Judges said, “He is not above ‘rocking the boat’ in his reflections” about such women as Sojourner Truth, Anne Frank and Dorothy Day, and such biblical figures as Hagar the Egyptian and the Samaritan woman. It was published by Crossroad Publishing Co. in New York.

Franciscan Fr. Jack Wintz, a member of the staff of St. Anthony Messenger magazine in Cincinnati for 33 years, is the 2006 winner of the St. Francis de Sales Award, the highest honor given to an individual by the Catholic Press Association.

New Orleans Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes received the Bishop John England Award, which honors Catholic publishers’ commitment to press freedom.

Owen McGovern, executive director of the CPA from 1988 to 2005, received a special St. Francis de Sales Award for his service to the Catholic press.

National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 2006

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