By Tony Gutiérrez
Two Arizona Catholic publications that were discontinued earlier this year due to economic concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic received a total of 17 awards from the Catholic Press Association this year.
The awards were announced July 2 via a livestream during the association’s Virtual Catholic Media Conference — “Together While Apart” — that was held June 30-July 2 in lieu of an annual conference that rotates locations throughout the country.
Awards for The Catholic Sun
The Catholic Sun, the former newspaper for the Diocese of Phoenix, received one first place award, two second place awards, two third place awards and one honorable mention. The Catholic Outlook, the former newspaper for the Diocese of Tucson, received four first place awards, three second place awards, two third place awards and two honorable mentions.
Leo Hernández from the Sun placed first in the “Best Reporting on the Celebration of a Sacrament” Spanish language category for his coverage of the 2019 Anointing of the Sick Mass: “Obispo a fieles en Misa de Sanación y Unción: ‘Ustedes no están solos.’” The award also went to Billy Hardiman as photographer and editor Tony Gutiérrez as graphic designer.
“The writer does an excellent job in recreating the quotes from Bishop [Eduardo A.] Nevares, as well as reviewing the feelings of those who attended the Mass,” wrote the judges.
Gutiérrez and contributor Joyce Coronel also received writing awards for the “Best Explanation of Marriage” in both the English newspaper (second place) and Spanish language (third place) divisions, for their bilingual coverage of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s apostolic exhortation on the family, “Complete My Joy,” or “Alegría Completa” in Spanish.
“Very nice reflection on Bishop [Thomas J.] Olmsted’s words and emphasizing the importance of living the Catholic faith through family and how the family represents the Holy Trinity and the cell of the Church,” wrote the judges for the Spanish language division.
Coronel’s English articles included coverage of a marriage conference, a reflection on the history and state of marriage today and an in-depth feature on the history of marriage and family life in the Diocese of Phoenix to coincide with the Sun’s 50th anniversary special edition. She also wrote in Spanish a detailed summary of a family prayer book that accompanied the exhortation.
The English newspaper division award also went to graphic designer Mick Welsh and photographers Gutiérrez and Jesús Valencia.
“Clear writing on topics that resonate with all families,” wrote the judges for the newspaper division. “Well done.”
Gutiérrez and Welsh also placed second in the “Best Use of Graphics — Best Chart or Information Graphic” category for a timeline of the history of the Diocese of Phoenix that ran across five pages, as a supplement to other stories, in the Sun’s 50th anniversary special edition.
“Good use of graphic space that is both central on the page, but allows the story to take the lead,” wrote the judges. “Subtle use of arrow shapes move the reader’s eye through the timeline graphic, while pictures throughout amplify the text well to create the feel of moving through time.’”
Staff writer Ambria Hammel received a third place writing award in the “Best Investigative News Writing for a Diocesan Newspaper” category for an in-depth two-part series analyzing the teen suicide crisis in the United States and how parish ministries and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix are addressing the topic.
“Thank you for publishing this article and raising awareness,” wrote the judges, referring to it as a “great resource for people who are struggling with their faith and their determination to live. Inspiring to read. Good work!”
Lastly, Catholic press newcomer and college senior Kirsten Bublitz received an honorable mention for a feature analyzing the impact of St. John Henry Newman on Arizona Catholics to coincide with his canonization.
Awards for The Catholic Outlook
Managing Editor Michael Brown and Communications Director Steff Koeneman from the Outlook placed first in the “Best Headline” newspaper category and “Best In-Depth Analysis” in the Spanish language category.
“Top of the line. This headline is clever and catchy. It sticks with you,” wrote the judges for their headline, “Sales, Solicitations and Loans: How Financing Cathedral Square Made Cents.”
“Breaking it in half was an advanced touch. The first half has alliteration and rhythm and even tells a story — and then sets up the kicker. The reason this was my top choice, ultimately — though, is because the story is kind of boring. It’s just a finance story [which is bad] for renovations [which is worse]. But this headline makes it so fresh and interesting. Superb work.”
For their section of stories on prayer, “Ora,” the judges described it as a “great collection of articles related to the importance of prayer. The quotes, particularly those from clergy, are well utilized throughout.”
In addition, Brown and Koenaman placed first and third for the “Best Parish Profile” Spanish language category for their articles on the history of Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson and St. Rita Parish in Vail, respectively. Graphic Designer Iliana Gonzales also received the award for the Santa Cruz story.
“This piece is loaded with historical context and some surprising facts about the history of Santa Cruz,” judges wrote about the Santa Cruz article, while describing the St. Rita article as “a beautiful piece. The quotes help tell the story.”
Brown, Koeneman and Gonzales also placed second for the “Best Coverage – Immigration” category and third for “Best Personality Profile” category, both in the Spanish language division.
“This is a news-driven collection of stories, thoroughly reported and well sourced,” wrote the judges on their immigration article, “La Historia de Ashley y Rochelle,” which also received an honorable mention in the “Best News Writing – National/International Event” category. “It clearly demonstrates the publication’s commitment to covering an issue of great importance to its community.”
Their personality profile on retiring chancellor Kathy Rhinehart was “well-written” and “well-rounded,” wrote the judges. “The article focused not only on her most recent job, but also traced her personal and professional path to the role. I thought the author did a good job capturing Rhinehart — her personality and passion was clear!”
The three also received an honorable mention for the “Best Reporting on Immigration” Spanish language category for their article, “Historias trágicas de la frontera en el antiguo monasterio.”
In addition, Koeneman received a second place design award for the “Best Use of Typography” Spanish language category for “Ora Siempre.”
“Cap height of the ‘O’ draws the eye’s attention, and the soft display font matches the theme of the title,” wrote the judges. “Its open apertures create welcoming space; mono-spacing of the title encompasses the entire width of the page which makes it strong and readable. The layout is easy to read.”
Gonzalez also placed first in the “Best Holy Days/Liturgical Seasons Photograph” English newspaper category, and second for the “Best Newspaper Layout of an Article or Column” Spanish language category.
Her photograph “Jesus” “quickly rose to the top for its powerful moment captured by the photographer,” wrote the judges. “It helped that the image was clean, without a distracting background that led to the overall impact of the photograph.” Gonzalez’s layout for “Cuaresma,” meanwhile, provided an “inventive use of the ‘factoid’ and Q&A formats.”
|Best Headline — Newspaper||Sales, Solicitations and Loans: How Financing Cathedral Square||1st Place|
|Best Photograph: Holy Days/ Liturgical Seasons — Newspaper||Jesus||1st Place|
|Best In-Depth Analysis — Spanish||Ora||1st Place|
|Best Parish Profile — Spanish||Historia de la Parroquia Santa Cruz, Tucson||1st Place|
|Best Layout of an Article or Column — Spanish Newspaper||Cuaresma||2nd Place|
|Best Use of Typography — Spanish||Ora Siempre||2nd Place|
|Best Coverage: Immigration — Spanish||La Historia De Ashley Y Rochelle||2nd Place|
|Best Personality Profile — Spanish||Rhinehart Se Retira Tras Seis Años De Fungir De Canciller||3rd Place|
|Best Parish Profile — Spanish||Familias Pioneras Se Reúnen A Hoanrar a Sta. Rita en Vail||3rd Place|
|Best News Writing: National/International Event — Spanish||La Historia De Ashley Y Rochelle||Honorable Mention|
|Best Reporting: On Immigration — Spanish||Historias Trágicas De La Frontera En El Antiguo Monasterio||Honorable Mention|
Encouragement from the Holy Father
On the first day of the conference, Catholic Press Association President J.D. Long-Garcia, a senior editor at America Magazine and a former editor of The Catholic Sun, read aloud a special message from the Holy Father to the members attending the conference.
“The experience of these past months has shown how essential is the mission of the communications media for bringing people together, shortening distances, providing necessary information and opening minds and hearts to truth,” Pope Francis wrote in his message. “Today, as much as ever, our communities […] count on newspapers, radio, TV and social media to share, to communicate, to inform and to unite.”
It was this mission that led to the establishment of the first Catholic newspapers in the U.S., the pope said, referencing the Catholic Miscellany in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, which was launched in 1822 by Bishop John England. Among the early newspapers in Arizona was the Tucson-based Arizona Catholic Herald published 1931-1940. The ideal of united amid diversity — reflected in the U.S. motto “E Pluribus Unum” — is needed today in an age marked by “conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune,” he added.
“We need media capable of building bridges, defending life and breaking down the walls, visible and invisible, that prevent sincere dialogue and truthful communication between individuals and communities,” Pope Francis said. “We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home.”
A true communicator dedicates himself or herself completely to the welfare of the others, at every level, from the life of each individual to the life of the entire human family, said the Holy Father.
“We cannot truly communicate unless we become personally involved, unless we can personally attest to the truth of the message we convey,” said the pontiff. “All communication has its ultimate source in the life of the triune God, who shares with us the richness of His divine life and calls us in turn to communicate that treasure to others by our unity in the service of His truth.”
He closed his message by asking for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, understanding and good counsel upon the members attending the virtual conference.
“Through your dedication and daily work, may you help others to contemplate situations and people with the eyes of the Spirit,” said Pope Francis.
“Where our world all too readily speaks with adjectives and adverbs, may Christian communicators speak with nouns that acknowledge and advance the quiet claims of truth and promote human dignity,” he added. “Where the world sees conflicts and divisions, may you look to the suffering and the poor, and give voice to the plea of our brothers and sisters in need of mercy and understanding.”
Discontinuation of Publications
The Diocese of Phoenix announced April 30 this year that while the suspension of public Masses, closing of schools and limiting of public gatherings helped slow the spread of COVID-19, it also resulted in finanancial challenges for parishes and schools, with a predicted reduction in revenue of approximately $6 million for the fiscal year that began July 1. Diocesan leaders implemented several cost-reduction measures, among them was the discontinuation of The Catholic Sun.
“The monthly publication, which was direct mailed to Catholic households throughout the Diocese of Phoenix, published its final issue in April,” officials said in a press release. “The Diocese of Phoenix will continue to Share the Good News of Jesus Christ through social media, Flocknote, television, radio, podcasts and Diocesan websites.”
Other measures included a reduction in workforce of 29 positions, eight of which were vacant, and a reduction in hours of 13 people. Priest base salaries were reduced by 25 percent and furlough days were implemented in that current budget year with more planned in this fiscal year budget.
“These decisions are difficult and were implemented after much prayer and discernment. The Diocese of Phoenix is grateful for the work, sacrifices and friendships of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we ask the community to join us in praying for them and their families,” the statement read. “We must rely on the Lord and His providential care while responding to the call to advance the mission of the Church. … The Diocese of Phoenix asks for the community’s patience in this period of transition and adjustments.”
As reported by The Catholic Journalist, the official trade newspaper for the Catholic Press Association, the Diocese of Tucson halted publication of The Catholic Outlook, citing finances amid the coronavirus shutdown. Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger shuttered many other diocesan offices for the time being, as well. A new communications plan is in the works, including a diocesan news site.
“It’s unfortunate to lose any newspaper during a national crisis, but Catholic journalists are incredibly resourceful and we will find a way to get news to the people who need it,” Michael Brown, editor of the Outlook and a veteran of the Catholic press, told the Journalist. “People count on us. God does too.”