Ann Rodgers

Friday Five: Top religion journalists, Christian rock, rainbow-cross flag burning, Sarah Sanders doctrine

Friday Five: Top religion journalists, Christian rock, rainbow-cross flag burning, Sarah Sanders doctrine

We’ve mentioned a few of the winners in the Religion News Association’s annual Awards for Religion Reporting Excellence — including Ann Rodgers, Kimberly Winston and Rachel Zoll.

But be sure to check out the entire #RNA2018 contest list for more familiar, deserving names. Some names I recognized: Peter Smith, Peggy Fletcher Stack, Tim Funk, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Emma Green, Elizabeth Dias, Bob Smietana, Jeremy Weber and Ted Olsen.

Congratulations to all of those honored for their work on the Godbeat!

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

(1) Religion story of the week: Seriously, a story on Christian rock music is the story of the week!?

Hey, when GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly refers to a New Yorker piece on the Christian rock wars as “stunningly good,” pay attention. And as his post urged, read it all.

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Friday Five: Lifetime achievement winner, Willow Creek drama, Spikeball Mennonites and more

Friday Five: Lifetime achievement winner, Willow Creek drama, Spikeball Mennonites and more

Talk about a slam dunk!

The Religion News Association announced its 2018 William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award recipient this week.

What a fine choice the RNA made:

When the Vatican ordered the bishop of Pittsburgh to reinstate a pedophile priest, then Pittsburgh religion reporter Ann Rodgers received the decision even before the bishop himself.

When an evangelist was making false claims about miracles in a Houston hospital, Rodgers did the hard yards of investigation and spotted the fake.

And when she was invited to join Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday procession in St. Peter’s Square, Rodgers waved a palm and reported back to Pennsylvania on the experience.

In addition to serving as president of the Religion News Association during a time of significant transition and growth, Rodgers faithfully served on the religion beat in New Hampshire, Florida, and finally in Pittsburgh, Pa., for more than three decades.  

For her many years of work in religion newswriting and service to RNA, Rodgers will receive the William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award at the 69th Annual RNA Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 15.

The William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2001 and is presented to individuals who demonstrate exceptional long-term commitment and service to the Religion News Association and its members, and to the field of religion newswriting.

Read the rest of the release.

Let's dive into the Friday Five:

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How major papers played Billy Graham's death on front pages: These bylines will be familiar to many

How major papers played Billy Graham's death on front pages: These bylines will be familiar to many

For those in Godbeat circles, many of the bylines splashed across today's front pages are extremely familiar.

I'm talking about names such as William Lobdell and Russell Chandler of the Los Angeles Times, Gayle White of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today.

All of those veteran religion writers — just to name a few — wrote their respective papers' major obituaries marking Wednesday's death of the Rev. Billy Graham at age 99.

But here's what might surprise many ordinary readers: None of them has worked for those papers in years. 

"I must have written and updated a whole suite of advance obit stories on Graham at least three times over 15 years," Grossman said. "I last polished up the package in 2013, in the week before I left the paper on a buyout. However, I stayed in touch with USAT editors (and) emailed them where fixes/changes might be needed over the years."

Welcome to the concept of the "prepared obit."

Here's what that means: News organizations put together obits in advance for certain prominent people, such as presidents, movie stars and — in the case of Graham — world-famous preachers. That way, they're prepared (at least somewhat) if the person dies 10 minutes before deadline.

A New York Times obituary writer explained it this way in a 2014 piece:

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No surprise, but Godbeat pro Peter Smith produces an excellent story on married Eastern Catholic priests

No surprise, but Godbeat pro Peter Smith produces an excellent story on married Eastern Catholic priests

"Rejoice, there is life after Ann Rodgers in Pittsburgh!"

So said regular GetReligion reader Jerry N., who emailed us a link to Peter Smith's latest piece of top-notch Godbeat journalism for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Smith, of course, spent 13 years as the religion writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He joined the Post-Gazette in 2013, succeeding Rodgers, Pittsburgh's longtime "queen of religion news." The two swept top honors in the metropolitan newspapers division of last year's Religion Newswriters Association contest. Just a few months ago, we featured Smith in a 5Q+1 interview about his in-depth reporting project on immigrant religious communities in Pittsburgh.

So yes, we at GetReligion are big fans of Smith — and of the Post-Gazette's strong commitment to the religion beat.

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Best of the Godbeat: At #RNA2014, Religion Newswriters Association honors top religion journalism

Best of the Godbeat: At #RNA2014, Religion Newswriters Association honors top religion journalism

Here at GetReligion, we've been big fans of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's exceptional religion writers.

So we weren't surprised to see former Post-Gazette Godbeat specialist Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh's longtime "queen of religion news," and her successor, Peter Smith, take top honors in the Religion Newswriters Association's annual writing awards. 

Religion News Service's David Gibson — known for his analysis pieces — won first place in the Religion Reporter of the Year category for large newspapers and wire services.

Time magazine's Elizabeth Dias earned first place in the Supple Religion Feature Writer of the Year contest for work that included a cover story on "The Latino Reformation." Her winning entry includes the full, 3,500-word story on Hispanic evangelicals, which was hidden behind a paywall when it was originally published.

Winners were announced Saturday night at #RNA2014 — RNA's annual meeting — in the Atlanta area.

For GetReligion readers, a number of other names on the award list will be familiar, too.

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JFK's strong Catholic ties and the speech he DIDN'T give

Ten years ago, while working in the Dallas bureau of The Associated Press, I wrote a national package of stories commemorating the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

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Assessing the state of the Godbeat

I posted earlier this week on three veteran superstars of the Godbeat — Ann Rodgers, Bob Smietana and Tim Townsend — deciding to leave major daily newspapers.

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Noooooooooooo!!! Godbeat losing a superstar

It's official: I'm leaving Post-Gazette 9/5 to be communications director for #Catholic @diopitt Thanks for a great 33 yrs in journalism

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