Our award winners: International stories take first place

Proclaim it from the rooftops!For most of us who work for U.S. and Canadian Catholic newspapers and related industries, the Catholic Press Association’s annual journalism awards are our Oscars, Emmys and Tony Awards all rolled into one. This year’s award announcements last Friday evening at the conclusion of the annual Catholic Media Convention in Toronto brought CNS several prizes, most notably for our international coverage.

In an era of media cutbacks and consolidations, we’re proud to say that we have an eye focused on the international church. Cardinal John P. Foley, former president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and a former Catholic newspaper editor in Philadelphia, often has reminded the Catholic press of Pope John Paul II’s admonition for those of us in the developed world to be in solidarity with our Catholic brothers and sisters around the globe. And to do that, Cardinal Foley has said, Catholic newspapers should devote space to international news so Catholic readers can be well informed about global issues.

So we’re proud to say that we take extra efforts to report on international issues, something that the mainstream media has been trimming in recent years.

Many of our award-winning stories (linked below) are worth reading again, for they give us a glimpse into the struggles of church members around the world. Whether it be gangs in Honduras or Iraqi refugees stuck in Jordan — or even the activity of the Holy See in Rome — CNS offers coverage unmatched in the Catholic world.

And soon we hope to begin offering individuals complete access to our entire news report, not just those few stories we post daily on our public site.

More on that later this year. In the meantime, here are the stories that won us first place in this year’s competition for calendar 2007:

Iraqi refugee Sabria Yousef Nona prays during Mass in the Chaldean Catholic Vicariate in Amman, Jordan, Feb. 14, 2007. A sole Chaldean priest in Amman looks after the spiritual needs of 8,000-10,000 Catholics, including many refugees from Iraq. (CNS/Debbie Hill)1. You may have heard of the plight of Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan because of the war, but you may not know that we sent our Jerusalem correspondent, Judith Sudilovsky, to Amman more than a year ago. Her stories won her first place for best investigative news writing. Judges said her stories “shed light on an underreported repercussion of the war in Iraq. It clearly took some digging to find these people….” We posted eight stories from Judith for our clients; here are three of them:

Henri Aguilar, a former gang member, holds his 1-year-old daughter, Genesis, in the yard of his home in Chamelecon, Honduras, May 2, 2007. Aguilar, who was a member of one of Honduras\' most notorious gangs, was assassinated by three masked men five days later. Under the guidance of Maryknoll Father Thomas Goekler, he had left the gang and was married, working full time and heavily involved in parish life. (CNS/Paul Jeffrey) 2. Three stories by freelance writer Paul Jeffrey on keeping youths out of gangs in Honduras won us a first-place for best reporting on teenagers. The judges said that “readers could not help but be drawn into the plight of Father Thomas Goekler as he fought to keep the youth of Chamelecon out of the street gangs.” Here are the stories:

3. Our Rome bureau also took first place in the category of best news writing on an international event for coverage by John Thavis of the Tridentine Mass issue. Judges said his articles “are a comprehensive, well-reported and well-written account of a major development in the Catholic Church.” Here are John’s stories:

We had other winners as well, such as a first place for our Spanish-language columnist, Moises Sandoval; a second place for our spiritual life columnist, Father Peter J. Daly; a third-place for our Peruvian earthquake coverage; an honorable mention for last year’s China series; and a slew of awards for our photos and graphics. These are stories you can get nowhere else, and we will continue to bring them to you.

UPDATE: Shorly after I posted this, the CPA alerted members that the awards list has been posted on its Web site.

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