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USC Annenberg student wins newswriting award

USC Annenberg Student Wins Newswriting Award
Evan Pondel was honored for work that he completed for a USC Annenberg course.

Evan Pondel, a student in the specialized journalism master’s program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, has won first place in a nationwide religion reporting competition.

Pondel received the Chandler Student Religion Reporter of the Year award at the annual meeting of the Religion Newswriters Association in Denver.

The award is named after Russell Chandler, the former longtime Los Angeles Times religion reporter.

Pondel is a Los Angeles native who worked at the online Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News before enrolling in the program for mid-career professionals at USC Annenberg.

He was honored for work that he completed for a USC Annenberg course led by Diane Winston, who holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion. The capstone of the course was a 10-day reporting trip to Israel and the West Bank.

Pondel’s winning stories explored the housing crisis in East Jerusalem, surrogate births among Israeli gays, and Scottish-Jewish fusion cooking in Los Angeles.

Although Pondel does not intend to report on religion fulltime after graduation, he sees its relevance to any issue that comes his way.

“Whether covering politics, business, sports or entertainment, religion touches every beat and is a key influence in our world,” he said. “The more journalists understand religion, the better our context for asking questions that move stories forward and ultimately weave a more powerful narrative.”

Also honored at this year’s conference as first-place winners in their categories were Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, William Wan of The Washington Post and Jenny Green of the Ottawa Citizen.

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