Time correspondent Elizabeth Dias mixed religious figures with political talk at a Thursday evening lecture, when she accepted an annual award for religious writing.
Dias — who won the second annual George W. Hunt, S.J. Prize from America Magazine, a national weekly Catholic review — addressed a crowd of more than 75 journalists as well as members of the Yale and New Haven community at Saint Thomas More Chapel. In her lecture, she discussed her professional enterprises, such as a story about Hispanic Evangelical worshippers that took eight months of research, as well as current affairs, including Islamophobia, violence against minorities and refugees fleeing terrorism.
“Reporting is an effort to bear witness to the heartbeat of the world, name it and describe it, and give it back to the world in a way that inspires conversation,” she said.
Over 100 individuals were nominated and reviewed for the $25,000 prize last spring.
Dias also mentioned Thursday evening the rising role of women in positions of religious leadership and in growing religious LGBTQ spaces. Dias, who grew up Protestant, also commended Pope Francis for his work uplifting the poor and marginalized and defending the environment. In contrast, she was critical of Donald Trump and his adoption of what theologians call the “prosperity gospel” — the belief that the righteous are rewarded with physical gains on Earth.
She added that her favorite interviews have not been with dignitaries — such as with President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama — but rather with everyday people who have little voice in media.
Dias joined Time in 2009 and has been a staff reporter since 2011. Receiving the prize at a time when journalism is a challenging industry gave her much encouragement, she said.
“Stories do not end when I put down my pen,” Dias said. “They begin. Then, the decision to bear witness is yours.”
New Haven resident and Saint Thomas More’s attendee Helen Knudsen said she was impressed by the talk.
Chris Hazlaris DIV ’19 said he especially connected to a statement Dias made about the difficulty in truly understanding another person’s background and position. He added he learned this lesson when he studied abroad in El Salvador, meeting many other people with different backgrounds and ideas about faith.
“I felt like an outsider a lot and I identified with the struggle of whether you can ever really know where someone else is coming from and whether you can ever be in solidarity with people if you come from a white, privileged background,” he said.