I posted earlier this week on the winners of the Religion News Association’s annual contest, announced at a banquet in Las Vegas (yes, the nation’s religion writers gathered in Sin City).
When I wrote that, RNA hadn’t yet posted the specific stories for which familiar Godbeat pros were honored.
Now that RNA has done that, it’s interesting to see which topics emerged as the top storylines of 2018 (the contest period).
An old joke in journalism is that three similar anecdotes make a trend. If that’s the case, it’s easy to spot a trend in the three winning entries for the RNA’s award for excellence in religion reporting at large newspapers and wire services.
See if these three names ring a bell from last year’s headlines: Bill Hybels. Theodore McCarrick. Paige Patterson.
Let’s see, one gained prominence as the pastor of a Chicago-area megachurch. One served as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C. And one was the president of a leading Southern Baptist seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
What ties the three together?
All three found themselves engulfed in sex abuse scandals — and in each of their cases, leading major newspapers played a prominent role in reporting the details that led to their unraveling.