News Beat podcast ranked among top media outlets from across the United States and earned high honors at the national 2018 Religion News Association Awards for Religion Reporting Excellence.
The annual conference and awards banquet, now in its 69th year, recognizes journalists, authors and news organizations throughout the country who demonstrate exceptional coverage of religion and associated issues. It was held at the Renaissance Downtown in Columbus, Ohio, on September 13 through 15.
The 2018 competition included more than 250 entries from religion reporters at newspapers, radio and television stations, and online sites, nationwide.
News Beat’s episode “Hijacking Jihad” clinched Second Place in the Excellence in Radio or Podcast Religion Reporting category, and its team—Michael “Manny Faces” Conforti, Jon Chim, Rashed Mian, Jed Morey and Christopher Twarowski—were honored among writers and“ publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, 60 Minutes, Politico, The Atlantic, TIME, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and others.
The powerful Aug. 24, 2017 episode took a critical look into the bastardization of this ancient tenet of Islam—which literally translates to “personal struggle”—by mainstream media, politicians and extremists to solely mean a bloody holy war waged by all Muslims, thus demonizing an entire religion in the process.
“Hijacking Jihad” featured thoughtful insights from Hussein Rashid, a professor of religions studies at Barnard College and founder of nonprofit islamicate; Daisy Khan, founder of the nonprofit Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE); and Murtaza Hussain, a national security reporter at The Intercept.
Chicago-based hip-hop artist Kayem—also the son of a Libyan revolutionary and political prisoner—contributed incendiary verses illuminating the tragic commandeering of this sacred term, and its disastrous ramifications.
Founded in 1949 “to advance the professional standards of religion reporting in the mainstream media and to create a support network for religious reporters,” states its website, the Religious News Association (RNA) also provides critical training, resources and mentoring to further its mission.
The RNA’s national nod for journalism excellence is just the latest accolade bestowed upon News Beat podcast, which strives to shine much-needed light on social justice and civil liberties issues neglected or intentionally ignored by other outlets through its unique, supersonic blend of hard-hitting journalism and independent music.
News Beat and its season one finale “Why We Riot”—a moving examination of the omnipresent societal, political and economic realities crushing communities of color throughout the United States—was crowned Best Podcast at the prestigious New York Press Club Journalism Awards in June.
That episode included interviews with renowned intellectual and Harvard University professor Dr. Cornel West; activist and former 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente; Elzabeth Nix, an associate professor at the University of Baltimore; and lifelong activist Lawrence “Larry” Hamm, also chair of the Newark-based nonprofit People’s Organization for Progress.
It featured an electrifying performance by News Beat’s 2017 Artist in Residence, Brooklyn-born hip hop artist Silent Knight and his jazz-fusion outfit The Band Called FUSE. Silent Knight was recently named an “Innocence Ambassador” by the nonprofit Innocence Project, which works to exonerate those wrongly convicted and incarcerated, through DNA.
News Beat was also honored in June at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Ippies Awards for its episode “Exonerated & Broke,” a gripping, emotional account of the heavy toll wrongful convictions have on those who serve lengthy prison sentences and are ultimately exonerated. The Ippies are awarded to members of the ethnic and community press by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and are the only New York-area competition recognizing excellence among journalists, photographers, graphic artists, editors, publishers and broadcasters of the ethnic and community media.
News Beat was launched in January 2017 by inbound marketing, sales enablement and client retention HubSpot platinum agency Morey Creative Studios to weaponize journalism and art to expose and examine the most pressing social justice issues of our day. It will be kicking off its third season in October.
In its brief history, besides the aforementioned awards, the revolutionary podcast has been featured as a Pick of the Week by The New York Times Podcast Club, and on multiple episodes of Best of the Left Podcast.