Tamie Ross

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll, Heidi Cruz, 'The Exorcist,' Tennessee politicos, Christ at the Checkpoint

Friday Five: Rachel Zoll, Heidi Cruz, 'The Exorcist,' Tennessee politicos, Christ at the Checkpoint

Last month, we congratulated Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for The Associated Press, when she received a special recognition award from the Religion News Association.

A tweet embedded with that post hinted at another big honor for Zoll, and now, there is official news of that prize.

AP announced this week that Zoll is one of the winners of the 2018 Oliver S. Gramling Awards, the global news service’s highest internal honor.

From the AP press release:

The pre-eminent voice on religion for more than a decade, Zoll has led AP’s reporting on the subject, cultivating relationships with sources across all faiths, writing remarkable stories and mentoring fellow journalists to better understand the importance of covering religion. Her reporting spans from a series on Christian missionaries in Africa to a 2016 election-year piece on how conservative Christians felt under siege to a story about two churches in Georgia -- one black, one white -- trying to bridge the divide. Zoll’s sourcing led to AP being first to confirm on-the-record the death of Rev. Billy Graham.

Zoll, who has terminal brain cancer, is on medical leave. Big congrats to her on the Gramling Award!

Now, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: The Atlantic’s profile of Heidi Cruz, wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is interesting and revealing, with various religion-related details. It’s worth a read.

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Delving into CNN's 'dirty little secret' about religious conversions and Ben Carson

Delving into CNN's 'dirty little secret' about religious conversions and Ben Carson

My Christian Chronicle colleague Erik Tryggestad wrote a column from New Zealand recently in which he lamented his somewhat pedestrian decision to give his life to Jesus:

I’ve always found my own story to be lacking in drama, I told the group. I grew up in the church with great, godly parents. When I was 14 I was baptized. My salvation was an assumption — an expected journey, hardly worth sharing.

Tryggestad's not-so-boring reporting adventures have taken him to 60 countries. ("Plus, y'know ... Canada," he told me. And yes, I'm including that comment just to agitate my friends north of the border.)

Apparently, my Chronicle colleague is not alone in wishing he had a better conversion story.

Enter CNN Religion Editor Daniel Burke with the "Religion News Clickbait Headline of the Week":

The dirty little secret about religious conversion stories

(Here at GetReligion, we're much too sophisticated to ever resort to such a headline. Obviously, we'd never put "dirty little secret" in a title just hoping to gain a few extra clicks. But anyway ... )

Like the CNN headline, Burke's lede takes ample creative liberty (as opposed to an inverted-pyramid approach):

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A more graceful Ross joins GetReligion crew

Some folks get annoyed when they read a news story with holes, a piece with errors, prose with pockmarks. Me? I see it as an opportunity to learn and to teach. And when there’s nothing to fix, when all angles are covered and no questions remain by the ending, I rejoice and join in the celebration of good journalism. Everyone wins!

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