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2004 Pulliam Editorial Fellow to research role of megachurches


Todd Gillman, President , Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, (202) 661-8421 or
Joyce Dobson, Director of Development , Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, (317) 927-8000 ext. 213 or

INDIANAPOLIS – A. Barton Hinkle, an editorial writer for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, is the 2004 recipient of the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Hinkle becomes the 25th individual to receive the award. He will be recognized October 2 during the National Conference of Editorial Writers annual convention in Chicago. As the Pulliam fellow, Hinkle will receive $40,000 from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation to conduct his research.

Hinkle’s research will focus on the phenomena of megachurches in America. Defined as houses of worship with average attendance of 25,000 or more, megachurches claim half the church membership in the United States while comprising only one tenth of the nation’s congregations. In his fellowship proposal, Hinkle writes that megachurches present an array of challenges to their communities, local businesses and smaller more traditional houses of worship. Questions that Hinkle proposes to investigate concern how megachurches alter civic life and whether they are replacing social bonds that have been lost in today’s society.

The Foundation’s selection committee chose Hinkle from among the applicants based upon his qualifications, project proposal, writing and research abilities, employer support and professional involvement.

“Bart Hinkle will bring a wealth of talent and journalistic experience to bear on a fascinating and important issue: the role of megachurches in today’s society,” said Paul McMasters, chairman of the selection committee.

McMasters, First Amendment Ombudsman at the Freedom Forum, is a past president of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. Other judges were David Sarasohn, associate editor for the Oregonian and 2002 Pulliam Editorial Fellow winner; and John Taylor, editorial page editor for The News Journal in New Castle, Del. and past president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.

A. Barton Hinkle was born in 1968 and attended the University of Virginia. In 1990 he became editor of the editorial page for the Suffolk (Virginia) News-Herald. In December of that same year he joined the editorial page staff of the Richmond News Leader. When the News Leader merged with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1992, Hinkle became associate editor on the editorial staff of the Times-Dispatch. Later he was promoted to associate editor and senior editorial writer and began writing a weekly signed column on local and state affairs in 2000. Three years later he began writing another weekly column on national and international affairs. He has twice won the Virginia Press Association’s top award for editorial writing and twice won its second-place award for column writing. He also writes occasional pieces for the American Enterprise magazine, published by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“Bart Hinkle possesses a keen intellect and is one of the finest writers I ever have known,” wrote Ross Mackenzie, Richmond Times Dispatch editorial page editor and recipient of the first Pulliam Fellowship in 1978. “His editorials are incisive and persuasive, his column one of this newspaper’s top reader preferences.”

The Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing is awarded annually by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists. It is endowed by a gift from Mrs. Eugene C. Pulliam, honoring the memory of her husband, one of the founders of the Society and former publisher of The Indianapolis Star, The Indianapolis News, The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette.

Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press

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