The Institute for War and Peace Reporting has released Central Asia’s first guide for journalists and civil society on reporting on religious issues in the region.
In the 21st century, the concept of news and reporting on the topic of religions and the one who produces them has changed. If 20-30 years ago, religious news and analytics were exclusively the prerogative of religious organizations, now religious-related content is found in the media and on web pages.
In this regard, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) has taken the initiative to develop a guide on religious issues for Central Asian countries.
On January 19, IWPR held a presentation of a guide on religious issues in Kyrgyzstan. The presentation was held in the format of a master class at which the authors of the textbook gave practical advice on using the manual.
This guide is divided into four parts:
- The right to freedom of religion (author – Dmitry Kabak).
- Legislative regulation of religious issues in the Kyrgyz Republic (author – Altynay Isaeva).
- Practical recommendations for journalists (author – Inga Sikorska).
- Glossary of terms used to cover religious issues.
The main advantage of the manual is that it provides practical examples of how to cover sensitive topics without becoming a conductor of hate speech. An expert on conflict-sensitive journalism and hate speech Inga Sikorska spoke about five trends in the coverage of religions:
- coverage of wearing religious clothing
- coverage of proselytism issues
- coverage of issues of religious minorities
- mixing or drawing parallels between religion and extremism
- objective coverage due to personal religious beliefs.
Examples of errors and practical tips for improving materials were given to form better understanding of each trend. An explanation of the phenomenon of hate speech and the line between it and the freedom of speech and expression is given. For the convenience of journalists, a glossary of unacceptable terms has been compiled to improve covering religious issues in Central Asia, as well as a list of common terms for a deep understanding of the content.
Summarizing the presentation, the participants of the master class took part in a practical exercise. It was necessary to choose a cliché frequently used in the media, which is a language of hostility or has a negative color, to find an alternative to ensure accurate and objective coverage in accordance with international journalism standards. Not surprisingly, participants found the answers in the manual itself.
“The textbook is unique. Such manuals do not exist in our region. It is specially adapted to the aspects of covering religious issues. Therefore, we jointly decided to hold a master class on its application for a deeper understanding of all the benefits of leadership tools, ” says Inga Sikorska, co-author of the textbook. “I was very interested in attending this workshop today. The presentation was informative and informative. I learned a lot today. I want to thank the organizers and note that the manual is very convenient to use, ” said Nazira Kurbanova, director of the Institute of History and Social and Legal Education of KSU named after I. Arabaev.
At the end of the event, participants had the opportunity to ask questions to the authors. Many of them dealt with practical difficulties in covering the topic of religions, as well as understanding the principles of the right to freedom of religion.
“My main comment?” Read the tutorial, use it. As for the frequent mention of the nationality and place of birth of the criminals is odd detail when covering topics of terrorism and extremism. This comes from the law enforcement practice of countries when the sentence must indicate the place of birth and nationality of the offender. We have already made recommendations through the UN treaty bodies to exclude this rule,” said Dmitry Kabak, President of the Open Position Foundation.