Richard Dujardin was in Rome to cover the installations of Pope John Paul II in 1978, Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 and Pope Francis in 2013. But as the former Providence Journal religion writer and the latest winner of the Religion Newswriters Association William A. Reid Lifetime Achievement winner recently recalled, the circumstances of the 2013 trip reflected changes in both the newspaper business and his own, former beat:
“The biggest change came early in 2009 when, after the religion page was formally eliminated, the staff was reorganized and I became a member of the breaking news team,” he recalled. “But what could have been a setback became an opportunity. Through the vehicle of breaking news I was able to cover different aspects of religion news on a timely basis. At times, covering the news in that fashion required my using some of my own resources, such as using my own frequent flyer miles to get to the 2013 papal conclave and subsequent installation. But it was all worth it.”
Dujardin, who retired from the paper in 2013, accepted his award over the weekend at the RNA’s annual conference in Philadelphia. That quote is taken from a June 18, 2015 profile piece by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion writer Peter Smith, a separate RNA winner this year in the category of Excellence in News Reporting – Metropolitan Newspapers.
The breadth and depth of topics covered by the 2015 RNA winners is inspiring. From Laurie Goodstein’s NYT piece about an abusive Archbishop in the Dominican Republic to Kevin Hardy’s series for the Chattanooga Times Free Press about an Appalachian church, there are many solid pieces of journalism here to be savored and appreciated.