Murray Snares National Writing Award


ST. LOUIS – In a media age where air time and print space is seemingly dictated by those who can yell the loudest or be the most vitriolic in their comments, Germaine Murray, associate professor of English at Maryville University, prefers the method of gentle persuasion. Using that approach has earned her a national writing award from the Catholic Press Association, which recently announced their annual awards.

Murray received the first-place award in the category “Best editorial on a local issue” for an editorial she wrote prior to the November 2006 election, advocating the defeat of Amendment 2, dubbed “the Stem Cell Initiative,” to the Missouri State Constitution. Titled “Amendment 2: Crossroads for Missouri,” the editorial appeared in the November 3, 2006, issue of the St. Louis Review, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The award category covers Catholic Press Association newspapers with paid circulations of more than 40,000. Amendment 2 was approved by a majority of Missouri voters on Election Day.

Murray, who is Catholic, wrote the editorial in her capacity as a member of the St. Louis Review editorial board, a position she has held for the past seven years. The editorial reflected the opinion of the newspaper and the Catholic Church, which opposed the amendment’s ratification. Contest judges lauded Murray for her ability to write about an emotionally charged issue in a logical, straightforward manner. “The editorial takes an unequivocal position while showing respect for the concerns of those on the other side,” the judges wrote. “It presents technical information honestly and accurately and applies a set of values to it but without making the skeptical reader recoil. The measured tone is just right.”

Murray, who estimates she has written more than 80 editorials for the Review as an editorial board member, said she is especially gratified that the contest judges appreciated her evenhanded approach. “I didn’t want to come off as shrill,” she remarked. “It was not finger pointing. It was not demonizing anyone.” Murray said she was asked by Review editor Jim Rygelski about five days prior to the publication deadline to write the editorial.

Murray often laments the lack of civil discourse and debate in modern society in her Maryville class discussions. She believes this award validates her approach and that it will lend more credibility in the classroom. “I think it will help me teach my students that when you think something is going in the wrong direction, you have an obligation to not only stop it but stop it in an articulate, well-reasoned manner,” she said. In addition to Murray’s award, the St. Louis Review earned four other 2007 Catholic Press Association awards.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.