Diane Winston is a national authority on religion and the media as both a journalist and a scholar. Her expertise includes religion, politics and the news media as well as religion and the entertainment media. Professor Winston’s current research interests are religion and the entertainment media, media coverage of Islam and of changing Christianities, and the role of religion in American identity.
Winston’s courses examine religion, spirituality and ethics in relationship to journalism, entertainment media, American history and foreign policy. Her class on international religion reporting has taken students to cover conflict and coexistence in Israel and Palestine, growing secularism in Ireland, and elections in India. In addition to partnering with Global Post and KPCC, she has helped students place their work in outlets including the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Der Spiegel, Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times and the Atlantic.
“Hollywood, Faith and Media,” her course on how television narratives incorporate religion, spirituality and ethics has hosted writer/directors such as David Shore (“House”), Barbara Hall (“Joan of Arcadia” and “Madame Secretary”) and Ronald Moore (“Battlestar Galactica” and “Outlander.”). The guest lectures are available on YouTube. Her other courses include American Religion, Foreign Policy and the News Media; American Spirituality: Radicals, Rebels, and Freethinkers, and Jesus is My Homeboy: An Introduction to American Religious History
In her work as Knight Chair, Winston routinely organizes conferences on religion’s role in the media. Convenings have explored post-9/11 television and the war on terror; religion and electoral politics; Arab democracy in the post-Arab Spring era; religion and the 2016 elections, and the Syrian refugee crisis. In fall 2015, she organized a Visions and Voices event, “Windows on Death Row” that featured editorial cartoons and art work from Death Row prisoners that illuminated the issue of capital punishment
Winston is currently working on several research projects, including three books: Un/Real Religion: Religion and Reality TV, an edited collection; Lost and Found: Religion in Los Angeles, also an edited collection and A Shining City: Religion, News and Reagan’s America. Her other books include: The Oxford Handbook on Religion and the American News Media (Oxford University Press, 2012); Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, editor, (Baylor University Press, 2009); Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture, co-edited with John Giggie, (Rutgers University Press, 2002); Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army, (Harvard University Press, 1999).
Winston is publisher of Religion Dispatches, a daily online magazine on religion, politics and culture, and she is on the executive board of the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture. Since 2006, Winston has received 14 grants for her work.
Before coming to USC, Winston was a program officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts. Between 1983 and 1995, she covered religion at the Raleigh News and Observer, the Dallas Times Herald and the Baltimore Sun and contributed regularly to the Dallas Morning News. She has won numerous press association awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her work in Raleigh, Dallas and Baltimore. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education among other publications.
Winston received a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University. She also holds Master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Brandeis University.