Diane Winston
Associate Professor and Knight Center Chair in Media & Religion


Journalism M.S.
Specialized Journalism
Undergraduate Journalism




ASC 332B

Office Hours

by appointment

More Diane




American Evangelicalism
American Religion and Politics
Mass Media
Religion and Gender
Religion and International Relations
Religion and the Entertainment Media
Religion and the News Media
Urban Religion

Center Affiliation

Center on Communication Leadership and Policy
Center on Public Diplomacy
Knight Program for Media and Religion

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 http://trans-missions.org/ireland/, and elections in India http://trans-missions.org/india2014/. 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.


A Pence Presidency Would Give Margaret Atwood’s Dystopian Vision a Run for its Money, Religion Dispatches, May 22, 2017
Two Sides of the Same Coin. Teaching Spirituality and Religion to Millennials, Tricycle, Spring 2017 Issue
’Under God…It’s a Great Thing’: Trump Delivers for his Christian Base, Religion Dispatches, February 2, 2016
National Prayer Breakfast: What does its history reveal? TheConversation.com, February 1, 2017
Might, Right, and White Privilege: It’s Morning in America, the Sequel, Religion Dispatches, November 9, 2016
“There is Sin and Evil in the World": Reagan, Trump, and the News Media, Los Angeles Review of Books, September 2016.
Capital in the (Seventeenth) to Twentieth Century, Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books, December 2015. 
Millennials and the ‘Nones’: Why 40 Years of Religion in US Elections May Change in 2016, Vice, June 20, 2015.
Rage Against the (New Age) Machine: Three Days at the Osho International Meditation Resort, Religion Dispatches, December 29. 2014.
More Religion in Politics? New Poll’s Findings may be Overhyped, Religion Dispatches, September 24, 2014.
Shutdown is over but will There be a Next Time, Religion Dispatches, October 17. 2013.
Pope Francis' woman problem, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2013
Jerusalem Honors Right-Wing Mogul Sheldon Adelson, Religion Dispatches, June 3, 2013
The Myth of News Media as Secularist Conspiracy, Religion Dispatches, April 16, 2013
As Irish Flee the Church, a Push for Reform, Religion Dispatches, March 18, 2013
Does Digital Communication Encourage or Inhibit Spiritual Progress? Big Questions Online, January 15, 2013
The evolving politics of faith, Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2012
William Booth's army of salvation, Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2012
See CV for more

Work in the academy

“From Reagan To Trump: Religion, Ethics and The News Media,” Lecture delivered at the Chautauqua Institution, August 17, 2017
“Diane Winston in conversation with Jim Fallows” post-lecture discussion, the Chautauqua Institution, August 17, 2017
Panelist, “Rethink. Reframe. Respond. Navigating a World in Transition: Creating New Maps for Foreign Affairs,” Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Foreign Affairs. Online Webinar Conference on Foreign Affairs. Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA, September 12-13, 2017
"What Would a Pence Presidency Look Like?" Featured Speaker. Hammer Forum, UCLA, May 16, 2017
"Religious Nones," Featured Speaker. Reimagining Religion Conference, USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. February 9, 2017
Keynote, “Religion in the News,” Religion and Public Life Program, Rice University, Houston, TX, November 4, 2016
Panelist, “Perception and Reality: Religion in the 21st Century,” USC Caruso Catholic Center in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, USC, October 29, 2016
Panelist, “Academics Online: Religion and Media,” Pittsburgh, PA, October 24, 2016
Panelist, “Working in Media and Religion,” Indianapolis, IN, October 9, 2016
Paper, “Re/Covering an American Religious Imaginary: Reagan, Religion and the News Media,” International Society for Media, Religion and Culture, Seoul, Korea, August 3, 2016
Paper, “Chrisley Knows Best: Flaunting Christian Patriarchy in the 21st Century,” International Society for Media, Religion and Culture, Seoul, Korea, August 2, 2016
Panelist, “God in the Voting Booth? The Role of Religion in American Presidential Politics,” Academy for Judaic, Christian and Islamic Studies at UCLA, Los Angeles, June 2, 2016
Moderator, “How Powerful is the Media Impact Upon Jews and Muslims in the Middle East? In the U.S.?,” The Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA), Los Angeles, February 24, 2016.
Moderator, “Covering Prayer: A Panel of Reporters,” Columbia University conference, New York City, February 6. 2016.
Panelist, “The Online Bible,” American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, November 20, 2015.
Respondent, “Catholics, the Church and Family,” The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, Pew Foundation Forum, Los Angeles, October 1, 2015.
Convenor and Moderator, “Seeing is Believing/Believing is Seeing: Visual Religion in the Legacy News Media,” American Academy of Religion, San Diego, November 23, 2014.
Convenor, Moderator and Panelist, “A Not-So-Quiet-Night in Sleepy Hollow: Television’s Reimagining of Race, Gender, Religion, Politics and the Apocalypse, American Academy of Religion, San Diego, November 22, 2014.
Moderator, “Thinking About Religion, Media and Culture with Henry Jenkins,” American Academy of Religion, San Diego, November 22, 2014.
See CV for more

Work in the profession

"A View from the White House: 20 Years of Faith-State Partnerships," USC, September 2016
“Understanding Syria’s Refugee Crisis,” Conference, USC, February 26, 2016.
“Dead Man Walking the Journey Continues,” keynote by Sr. Helen Prejean, and “Windows on Death Row” art exhibition, USC, October 22, 2015
“Godless Politics: Bernie Sander, The Rise of Secular Humanism and the Future of American” USC, October 7, 2015
“What Matters to Me and Why,” USC- Office of Religious Life, Los Angeles. November 6, 2014.
Keynote Address, “Covering a Conflict without Adding to it,” Jewish Student Press Association, Los Angeles, October 31, 2014.
“Religion, Democracy and the Arab Awakening,” Conference, USC, April 25, 2014, co-sponsored with USC Center for Islamic Thought, Culture and Practice and Global Post.
See CV for more


Making America Great: Reagan, Religion and the News Media (in progress)
Reality and Religion: Faith and Spirituality in Reality TV, co-editor, New York University Press, 2017
Lost and Found: Religion in Los Angeles, co-editor, (in discussion with University of California Press, 2017).
The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, 2012
Red Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army, 1999
Co-editor, Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture, 2002
Editor and Author, Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, 2009
See CV for more


Fall 2016

GESM-121: American Spirituality: Radicals, Rebels and Freethinkers

Awards and Honors

Visions and Voices award, “Dead Man Walking the Journey Continues,” keynote by Sr. Helen Prejean, and “Windows on Death Row” art exhibition, 2015
Advisory Board, International Consultation on Media, Religion, and Culture, 2014 –
Advisory Board, Religion and Digital Media Initiative, Social Science Research Council Project, 2013 (Luce–funded)
Advisory Board, “New Directions in the Study of Prayer,” Social Science Research Council Project, 2012-2015 (Templeton-funded)
See CV for more

Course Titles

Fall 2017

GESM-121: American Spirituality: Radicals, Rebels and Freethinkers