SpokaneFAVS wins its second national journalism award


This week the Local Media Association named SpokaneFAVS the Best Niche Site Produced by Local Media for unique visitors under 100,000.

The judges said SpokaneFAVS was, “Well designed, easy to follow. Interactive for its target audience.”

The judges said they were also impressed at how open the website was to all faiths and beliefs.

The Local Media Association is the only non-profit, professional trade association specifically serving the local media industry. Each year it holds numerous contests to make sure that “the best are nationally recognized.”

Abbotsford News was name the second place winner and Columbus Parent Magazine took third.

In 2013 SpokaneFAVS won its first national journalism award when it won third place in the Harold Schacerrn Award for Online Religion Section of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association.

In April SpokaneFAVS celebrated its second anniversary.

Religion Newswriters Association honors top religion reporting


DURHAM — Religion reporters from across the country won top honors Saturday (Sept. 17) at the 2011 Religion Newswriters Association’s annual awards competition.

Michelle Boorstein won the large newspaper reporting award for The Washington Post, followed by the The New York Time’s Laurie Goodstein and Adelle Banks of the Religion News Service.

Tim Townsend of St. Louis Post-Dispatch won the metro newspaper reporter of the year award, followed by Tim Funk of The Charlotte Observer and Michelle Bearden of The Tampa Tribune.

The Cornell Religion Reporter of the Year award for mid-sized newspapers went to Bob Smietana of the The Tennessean in Nashville, followed by Peggy Fletcher Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune, Kristen Moulton of The Salt Lake Tribune and honorable mentions to David Yonke of The (Toledo) Blade and freelancer Rasha Elass.

In the Cassels Religion Reporter of the Year contest for small newspapers, first place went to Melissa Burke of the York (Pa.) Daily Record, followed by Brett Buckner of Anniston (Ala.) Star, Tracy O’Shaughnessy of Republican American in Waterbury, Conn. and Amy Umble of The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star (honorable mention).

William Wan of The Washington Post won first-place in the Supple Religion Writer of the Year award, followed by Laurie Goodstein of the The New York Times and Peggy Fletcher Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Gerald A. Renner Enterprise award went to Tony Carnes of “A Journey Through NYC Religions,” followed by Candace R. Kwiatek of The Dayton Jewish Observer and Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times.

Religion commentary of the year went to Kay Campbell of The Huntsville Times, followed by Laura Silver of The Huffington Post and Phyllis Zagano of Religion News Service.

The Schachern Award for Multimedia Reporting went to Tracy Simmons of Creedible.com, followed by David Noyce of The Salt Lake Tribune and Elizabeth Tenety and Sally Quinn of The Washington Post.


Instructor wins national award for community journalism


By Darin Watkins, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Tracy-Simmons-webSPOKANE, Wash. – A religious online media project started by a Washington State University instructor has won a national award for “Best Local Community Initiative” from the Local Media Association.

“This is really a unique, local initiative that identified a community need and responded,” wrote judges for the association, which is made up of 2,400 traditional news organizations that serve as the dominant sources of local news in their markets. “Though this is a startup, it offers lessons for other news media.”

Respectful religious dialogue

Spokane Faith and Values (SpokaneFaVS) was launched in 2012 by Tracy Simmons (http://murrow.wsu.edu/directory/faculty/simmons/index.html), an instructor with The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at WSU’s Pullman campus.

The nonsectarian initiative partnered with the national Religion News Service, local Spokesman-Review newspaper and area universities to create a place for respectful dialogue on ethics, morals, values, politics and faith. The site has more than 50 writers offering opinions and viewpoints across a wide spectrum of religious ideologies.

“I think religion lends itself to the digital medium,” Simmons said. “People want to have these conversations in a safe and respectful environment.” Read more at http://spokanefavs.com.

Fostering understanding face to face

Online discussions sometimes lead to in-person conversations – with panel discussions, pub or coffee talks, mixers and “faith feasts.”

“I didn’t want just a website offering the latest headlines and conversations,” Simmons said. “I wanted this to be a tool for starting offline conversations aimed at fostering understanding among people at a time when many conversations have grown so divisive.”

Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism.