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Diane Winston

Knight Chair in Media and Religion
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
Personal Website


Knight Chair in Media and Religion (University of Southern California): Diane Winston and the Center for Religion in the Media are prolific commentators on the impact of news coverage (or lack of coverage) of religion.


Diane Winston is a veteran journalist, author and scholar.

Grant Background

The Knight Chair will suggest new ways journalists can cover faith and values, and be an articulate advocate for the improvement of journalism and its contributions to society. The chair will design curricula for graduate journalism students and teach in the religion track in the master’s program. The chair will implement programs to train mid-career journalists, including those at small newspapers, about special issues related to religion and society. As a result of teaching and research by the Knight Chair, USC will serve as a new resource for religion and media nationally, as a training center for young journalists and as an intellectual center for the public on issues involving the news media in the coverage of religion.

Recent Activities

In 2013, Winston acquired Religion Dispatches, an online magazine. Since its inception in 2008, RD has built a loyal base of readers, projecting 2 million unique views and 2.7 million visits in 2014. Nominated for a Webby Award in three of the past four years, RD is widely viewed as the premier online site for thoughtful but provocative, incisive yet accessible coverage and commentary on religion, politics, and culture. Winston serves as publisher and editorial director of Religion Dispatches.

In 2013, Winston initiated a new collaboration with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. As part of its Campus Consortium, USC Annenberg hosted an event with Bregtje van de Haak and Richard Vijgen, creators of the online Atlas of Pentecostalism The Pulitzer center also awarded a Pulitzer Fellowship to Rosalie Murphy, one of Winston’s students, to report on Mumbai’s Zoroastrian community.

In March 2014, Winston brought her journalism class to India for eight days of reporting on the upcoming national elections. Winston partnered with Indian Express and Global Post, both of which published packages written by the students. Additional work appeared in publications including Huffington Post, OnBeing, Killing the Buddha

•  What are the most promising changes you see in journalism education as a whole, and why do you think they are hopeful?

Journalism education is focusing on real world training that prepares students to work with new technologies as well as to think critically about depth content. At USC Annenberg, our new converged newsroom and our pumped up digital program teaches students to use the latest technology—from google-glass to vodcast – and prepares them for 21st century reporting. At the same time, an array of specialists—experts on reporting about international relations, the arts, entertainment, sports, and religion—help students to engage with issues and ideas. This type of 360 degree training is what makes current journalism education so exciting.