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RNA's Templeton Awards Honor Two Veteran Religion Reporters

Contact: Debra Mason, Religion Newswriters Association Executive Director, 614-891-9001 ext. 1, Mason@RNA.org


SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Religion Newswriters Association recently announced the winners of its prestigious Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year and Religion Story of the Year contests for the mainstream news media. The awards were presented Sept. 29, 2007, at RNA's annual conference awards banquet in San Antonio.

Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award
Sandi Dolbee of The San Diego Union-Tribune won first prize and $3,500 this year for the Religion Reporter of the Year category, which recognizes excellence in enterprise reporting and versatility on the religion beat.

From a feature on a team of young Mormons recreating a pioneer mountain trek, to a moving profile of a local National Guard chaplain whose faith was challenged in Iraq, judges said her stories showed a "knack for finding the heart of a story and presenting it in a way that brings difficult and complex subjects to life."

This is not Dolbee's first trip to the winners' circle. She won the Templeton Religion Reporter Award in 2003 as well. A journalist for more than three decades, Dolbee has been the religion and ethics editor of The Union-Tribune since 1992.

Second place ($400) in this year's Religion Reporter Award went to Cathleen Falsani of The Chicago Sun-Times. Eric Gorksi's Denver Post stories took third ($200).

Templeton Story of the Year Award
Created four years ago, the Templeton Story of the Year contest showcases a single story or series on religion in print media. This year the first-place award went to longtime religion reporter David O'Reilly and the Philadelphia Inquirer for a three-part series on the Catholic Church worldwide called "Faith in Flux."

Judges lauded O'Reilly's work for "taking an ambitious look at the state of the Catholic Church, examining its current place both in the community the paper serves and in the larger world."

O'Reilly took home a $3,500 prize. No stranger to RNA's contests, O'Reilly also won the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award in 1998.

Other winners in this category include: Second place ($400), Eric Gorksi, for work done at The Denver Post, "The Prosperity Gospel"; and third place ($200), Neil Munro, National Journal, "Debating Design."

About the contests
The John M. Templeton Foundation funds the Templeton Reporter of the Year award, first given in 1984, and the Templeton Religion Story of the Year Award, which began in 2003. Stemming from his decades of work on Wall Street, John Templeton established some of the world's largest and most successful international investment funds. His philanthropy extends toward projects, college courses, books and essays on the benefits of cooperation between science and religion.

In addition to the Templeton contests, RNA awards prizes in nine other categories with a total purse of nearly $15,000. Winners from all contests were selected from among 327 entries.

RNA is a trade association that provides training and resources for journalists who write about religion in the mainstream media. It has more than 570 members and subscribers worldwide.