2022 AAR Journalism Awards

Winners of the Best In-Depth Reporting on Religion Are Announced

The American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion, announces the winners of its 2022 best in-depth reporting on religion contest. For the first time, awards are given in two categories: Best In-Depth Newswriting and (new) Best In-Depth Multimedia Journalism.

Best In-Depth Newswriting

This year’s recipients submitted up to three news articles, columns, editorials, and other reporting in any published medium of any audience or market size published in the calendar year 2022. First-place winner receives $500; second-place, $150; and third-place, $100. 

Best In-Depth Multimedia Journalism

This year’s recipients submitted up to three pieces of broadcast, radio, podcast, interactives, or other multimedia news media distributed for any audience or market size and published in the calendar year 2022. First-place winner receives $500; second-place, $150; and third-place, $100. 

2022 Journalism Awards Jury
The members of the 2022 AAR Journalism Awards jury included Manya Brachear, co-host of People of the Pod; Jacqueline Charles, Emmy Award-winning correspondent and Pulitzer Prize finalist from the Miami Herald; Debra L. Mason, Professor Emerita, Missouri School of Journalism; Sarah Posner, author and reporting fellow with Type Investigations; and jury chair Sara Kamali, founder of Kamali Consulting and member of the AAR's Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion.

Best In-Depth Newswriting

Peter Manseau

Peter Manseau, Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, won the first-place award. His series of articles provided urgent, timely, and deeply researched looks at religiously-infused violence and its role in a multitude of assaults on American democracy, including the insurrection on January 6, 2021. The author of ten books, he received his doctorate in religion from Georgetown University. His journalism and essays have appeared in venues including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.

Example of winning workHis Pastors Tried to Steer Him Away from Social Media Rage. He Stormed the Capitol
Follow Peter on Twitter: @plmanseau

Dawn Araujo-Hawkins

Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, news editor at The Christian Century, won second place. Her reporting shines light on little-told stories of survivors of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic nuns, the rise of natural burial practices, and the success of Mormon mothers who are social media bloggers. Her bylines have included Sojourners, Christ and Pop Culture, the Muslim Hoosier and Presbyterians Today. In 2016, she was named best in-depth religion news writer by the AAR and in 2019, the best online feature writer by the Great Plains Journalism Awards. She is vice president of the board of Anabaptist World — an independent magazine covering Mennonite and Anabaptist communities around the world — as well as vice president of the board of the Religion News Association, where she also serves as co-chair of the membership committee. In March 2020, Dawn joined the board of the Religion News Foundation.

Example of winning workSurvivors of Sex Abuse by Nuns Suffer Decades of Delayed Healing
Follow Dawn on Twitter: @dawn_cherie

Ken Chitwood 

Ken Chitwood is an award-winning religion, culture, and travel newswriter and scholar and won the third place award. His reporting includes a delightful and eye-opening history of a Muslim acrobat in Liverpool, an insightful and timely article on how sports play a role in combatting ignorance and Islamophobia, and interesting reports on Jewish music and spiritual seeking in modern-day Germany. He is the Editor of ReligionLink, a nonpartisan, monthly newsletter with source guides and story ideas for journalists reporting on religion. He is also a Journalist Fellow with the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture’s Engaged Spirituality Project, Religion News Association Board Member, and Senior Research Fellow with the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Example of winning workYiddish Music Is Resurging In The Weimar Square Hitler Frequented
Follow Ken on Twitter: @kchitwood

Best In-Depth Multimedia Journalism

Mike Cosper

Mike Cosper, host and producer of the podcast series The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is the first place award winner. Mike produced, wrote, edited, and hosted the podcast episode as well as produced and conducted the majority of the sound engineering. Mike is a Kentucky-based writer and podcaster primarily focused on exploring issues of worship, culture, and spiritual formation. He serves as the Senior Director of Podcasts at Christianity Today. The award highlights episode two of the podcast series, which details the growth of the megachurch movement in modern American Christianity and the decline of Mars Hill. From integrating interesting teasers and some rare and fascinating audio clips to the expertise and perspectives of scholars that lend genuine context to the series' narrative arc, this particular episode exemplifies the purpose of this prize.

Example of winning workEpisode 2 of the podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, entitled, “Boomers, The Big Sort, and Really, Really Big Churches”
Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikeCosper

Monique Parsons

Monique Parsons, religion reporter and inaugural managing editor of Interfaith America Magazine, is the second-place award winner for a pair of episodes for KALW’s The Spiritual Edge podcast. One episode features the portrait of the pioneering Black Muslim American feminist who launched Women in Islam, Inc., the first national women’s organization founded by and on behalf of Muslim women. The other podcast episode tells the story of a pastoral ministry program offering redemption to inmates of a maximum security prison in Illinois. Both episodes bring needed attention to facets of the carceral system that are seldom featured or explored in most media outlets. Her work has been honored by the Religion News Association and the Religion Communicators Council. Based in Chicago, Monique studied religion at Princeton University and earned master’s degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Harvard Divinity School.

Example of winning work: Episodes of the podcast, The Spiritual Edge, entitled “Making Space for Women In Mosques” and “Inside an Illinois Maximum Security Prison with a Theology Professor and Her Students.”
Follow Monique on Twitter: @MoniqueFParsons

Kylie McGivern

Kylie McGivern is a six-time Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter at ABC Action News in Tampa, FL and the third-place winner. Kylie has been recognized nationally for her reporting on Florida's prison system and in the Southeast for her investigations into the Catholic Church, child sex trafficking and the state's unemployment system. Kylie previously reported and anchored at television stations in Columbia, MO, where she graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Johnson City, TN and Austin, TX, before returning to her home state of Florida in 2018. The winning work includes an 11-minute broadcast report, a story, graphics, linked court and other documents. The jury acknowledged the importance of such in-depth reporting on abuses by clergy members, especially by local radio and television outlets. The story also included a focus on states where recent laws make sexual abuse cases older than the statute of limitations eligible for prosecution.

Example of winning work"Man accuses Florida priest of sexually abusing him as a child. Why the state can’t prosecute."
Follow Kylie on Twitter: @KylieMcGivern