This year, the Religion Newswriters Association chose my friend Gayle White as its lifetime achievement award recipient. I cannot think of anyone who deserves this honor more.
The ceremony in Minneapolis Saturday night was even more poignant for the both of us because Gayle and I were among almost 100 journalists who left the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in its latest round of buyouts and layoffs last May.
Gayle worked at the paper 37 long years. She spent 16 of them covering the religion beat. She reported each story in depth and detail. Her writing was elegant and mellifluous. She taught me the power of ordinary stories told in extraordinary ways.
Gayle was the best at her craft and yet she never exhibited the arrogance that overtakes some award-winning journalists. She remained modest and humble to her last day and approached every story she wrote with the same enthusiasm she had when she started out in the business all those years ago.
Gayle’s husband, Bob, died of cancer two years ago. She endured the most painful experience of her life with the same perseverance and grace that made her such an incredible reporter.
I had the privilege of sitting next to Gayle for the last five years I was at the AJC. If there is one thing I miss about going to work at 72 Marietta Street every day, it’s seeing Gayle’s smile first thing in the morning.
6 Replies to “Honoring Gayle”
Moni: You are so right about Gayle. I sat near her for several years on the City Desk and always wondered (1) how she made it to her desk, bright and cheery, before 8:30 a.m. every day, and (2) how she was able to take religion—where culture meets politics—and keep it real. Gayle is never swayed by charismatic, over-the-top, smooth-talking preachers nor have I ever seen her express cynicism and doubt over people's choice of faith. Nobody but Gayle could write about local wiccans, Hosea Williams, area mega churches and the religious right—all in one week, and with dignity and grace in every word.Go Gayle!Gail Hagans Towns
Gayle is a reporter's reporter.One of the best stories in the AJC during my 25 years there was Gayle's profile of the notorious minister Earl Paulk. Congratulations, Gayle, on a richly deserved award.
Congratulations to Gayle for her well-deserved honor. She produced the kind of stories that made me proud to be a colleague and grateful to be a reader. All that, and she's as nice a person as you could ever meet.
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Thanks so much Moni and friends. What MONI didn't tell you is that she was there to pick up two awards including Reporter of the Year for her chaplain narrative. One set of judges called it "stunning." Yea Moni! I couldn't have been prouder of anyone. She dedicated her award to the Iraqi journalists who have been so courageous. As is she.
Congratulations Moni on your two awards! I'm so proud of you and grateful for the work you do.