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


Journalism (BA)
Journalism (MS)
Specialized Journalism (MA)
Specialized Journalism (The Arts) (MA)




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).

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.


National Prayer Breakfast was a moment for leaders to show humility — Trump changed it Salon, February 10, 2020
How Gay Rights went Mainstream—and what it cost Washington Post, June 30, 2019
Game of Thrones makes us Question Evil in the Real World Newsweek, May 17, 2019
How can Christians support Donald Trump? Religion News Service, December 17, 2018
How Salvation Army’s red kettles became a Christmas tradition, TheConversation.com, November 28, 2018
How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church, TheConversation.com, December 6, 2017
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
CV available upon request.

Work in the academy

Moderator, "Is U.S. coverage on Israel/Palestine changing, and if so, how?" Can we talk about it? Reframing the discourse on Israel/Palestine, USC, Los Angeles, CA, April 5, 2019
Panelist,  "Trumping the Religious Right: How Politics and Religion are Changing" Panelists Diane Winston (USC), Jeff Guhin (UCLA), Brad Christerson (Biola University) and Rebecca Sager (Loyola Marymount) spoke on why President Trump’s most ardent supporters are members of the religious right, and how his presidency has supported their goals. A full room of listeners learned how and why this perhaps counterintuitive alliance came together and stays together, and what that says about different ways that conservative religion enters U.S. political life today. Loyola Marymount University Speaker Series, Los Angeles, CA, March 19, 2018
Moderator, “Reimagining Religion 2018: New Stories, New Communities,” panel "From Non-fiction to Fiction,” USC, Los Angeles, CA, January 26, 2018
Panelist, “Challenges in Political Coverage as Related to Jews and Judaism,” American Jewish Press Association 2017 Conference, Los Angeles, CA, November 14, 2017
Panelist, “Culture, Race and Religion,” Speaking Across the Divide series, Unruh Institute, USC, Los Angeles, CA, October 6, 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
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
CV available upon request

Work in the profession

Radio.com, It's Official, We're All Doomed! (Interview at 36:44). January 8, 2020.
PBS News Hour, Millennials are leaving organized religion. Here’s where some are finding community. January 2, 2020.
BYU Radio, Homicide-by-Overdose, Satellite Troubles, Red Kettle Campaign December 11, 2019.
Caring Magazine, The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality and the Role of Each with Dr. Diane Winston. November 11, 2019
Esras Films, Religious Representation in Hollywood Films. October 14, 2019
Politics! Politics! Politics!, How every 2020 candidate talks about religion - Interview with Diane Winston July 23, 2019.
Interfaith Voices, Ethics and Morality in Game of Thrones. May 31, 2019
GroundTruth, The do’s and don’ts of religion reporting. May 2, 2019
Franceinfo, Paris. VIDEO. Il y a du sexe, de la violence, de l'argent" : une professeure américaine décrypte le succès de "Game of Thrones. April 14, 2019
ABC Life, Sydney. Game of Thrones' family problems have things to teach us about our own families. April 14, 2019
i24NEWS, New York. Religious Broadcasting, NRB 2019. Take :30 with Derricke Dennis. March 28, 2019
Diane Winston on Exorcisms: How They Work and Why We’re Obsessed, NBC Los Angeles. November 1, 2018
Diane Winston on Religion and Reality Television, “How Do You Like It So Far? Podcast” with Professor Henry Jenkins, September 15, 2018
Interviewed at Refinery29.com, Over One Million People Have Seen The Met's ‘Heavenly Bodies’ Exhibit, August 27, 2018
Interviewed at Refinery29.com, Has Catholicism Earned This "Fashion" Moment?, May 3, 2018
“From Reagan to Trump: Religion, Politics, and the US News Media,” David L. Dungan Memorial Lecture, UT Knoxville, February 6, 2018 Webcast: https://bit.ly/2GkNxoA Podcast: https://bit.ly/2GneMLg
“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
"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
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
CV available upon request


Making America Great: Reagan, Religion and the News Media. (Monograph)
Reagan, Religion and the News Media (under contract, Chicago University Press, forthcoming 2021)
Religion in Los Angeles (under contract, Routledge Press, forthcoming 2021)
Reality and Religion: Faith and Spirituality in Reality TV, 2018
The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, 2012
Red Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army, 1999
Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture, 2002
Small Screen, Big Picture: Television and Lived Religion, 2009
CV available upon request

Awards and Honors

Visions and Voices award, “Last of the Polish Jews,” Film and Panel Discussion, 2018
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)
CV available upon request

Course Titles

Fall 2019

Jour490: Directed Research
Jour490X: Directed Research
GESM121g: American Spirituality: Radicals, Rebels and Freethinkers

Spring 2020

Jour585: Specialized reporting in Armenia
Rel147 Religion, Media and Popular Culture