By Rosemary Pollock
LDS Columnist Wins Religious Journalism Award
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- For the second time in four years, Deseret
News columnist, Jerry Johnston, has been awarded the Wilbur Award for
outstanding religion columns by the Religion Communicators Council.
The 2000 Wilbur will be presented to Johnston on April 28, 200l
during the council's annual convention in Minneapolis.
The Religious Communicators Council is an interfaith group that
awards Wilburs to selected films, TV programs, broadcasts for the
content of religious material "that recognizes excellence in
communicating religious issues, values and themes in public media."
The prize is named for Marvin C. Wilbur, who while serving as the
Religion Council's executive officer for 27 years, was also the
information officer for the Presbyterian Church.
Johnston, 52, is a Brigham City native and a member of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He earned a bachelor's degree
from Utah State and a master's degree from the University of New
Mexico. His degrees were both in Spanish literature. He came to the
Deseret News in 1976 as a sports writer and later was a feature
writer and columnist for "Ideally Speaking" a weekly religion column.
Johnston is the author of two books, "Spirits in the Leaves" and
"Dads and Other Heroes." He has received numerous journalism and
writing awards, including first place from the Utah Arts Council and
the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won
an Associated Press writing contest in 1995. Johnston received the
Mark E. Petersen Excellence in Writing Award in 1979.
"I think the best way is to tap into universal themes that all people
can relate to their own lives," said Johnston of his award winning
writing style. Rick Hall, Deseret News Managing Editor said, "Jerry
somehow consistently puts a subtle but impossible to ignore touch on
his column that makes reading it both entertaining and enlightening."
"But, amazingly, you don't realize that until you're done. The
delivery is so soft that you're finished reading before you know
you've been hit. But there's no doubt about what he was trying to
say. It's clear that he gives his writing as much attention as his
message. And, somehow, neither overshadows the other. His column is
just a great read," Hall concluded.
Johnston recently suffered a heart attack while at the Dallas-Fort
Worth Airport. "Because of my heart problems, I wrote fewer columns
last year and readers seemed more please," he quipped. "I guess that
means when the time comes that I don't write any, they'll be
News columnist wins 2000 Wilbur Award
Deseret News 24Mar01 B2
By Lynn Arave: Deseret News staff writer
Prize recognizes excellence in religious writing