‘Unbound’ wins four Associated Church Press awards

Report from Patrick David Heery, contributing editor

Unbound awards
Among Unbound's four awards are two prestigious awards of excellence for best social media practices and best theme issue for an online publication

Religious journalists from all over the country and from Canada gathered together on Thursday evening, April 4, to celebrate their best work.

Every year, the Associated Church Press (ACP), the oldest Christian press association in North America, invites its member publications, including such prominent magazines as Sojourners, Christian Century, and U.S. Catholic, to convene for shared learning and support opportunities—and to honor and award best practices. This year’s theme was “communicating at the speed of life” and reflected the significant shift toward social and online media, but also was wisely cautious of trends diminishing the importance of serious, thoughtful content and the opportunities still presented by print media.

It seemed appropriate then that Unbound, which has endeavored to integrate the story-telling power of online media with the organizing power of relationships, made its debut at this year’s ACP convention.

Unbound, in its first year of existence, took home four awards, including two prestigious awards of excellence (1st place) for best social media practices and for best theme issue by a web journal. That last was the recent collaborative issue of Unbound and Presbyterians for Earth Care: “Hope for Eco-Activists: Discovering an Environmental Faith“. Unbound also won an award of merit (2nd place) for our “Seven Sins Against Democracy—And What’s Faith Got To Do With It” series for the 2012 presidential election. And we received an honorable mention for coverage of the 220th Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly (2012) in our issue, “Backstory“.

Altogether, Presbyterian journalists won 18 ACP awards. Presbyterians Today took home an unprecedented second straight win as best denominational magazine in the country. Read more about all the winners in this Presbyterian News Service article.

But even more important than the awards were the relationships formed and deepened. As church communicators face increasing pressure to subordinate journalistic integrity and courage to the interests of fundraising and promotion, and as young people flee in droves from churches they perceive to be culturally complicit and too safe for a radical Gospel, there has never been a time when organizations like ACP are more needed.

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Patrick David Heery (Rev.) is the co-creator of “Unbound” and its first managing editor. He currently serves as the Editor for Presbyterian Mission Publications, including “Presbyterians Today”.
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