Indonesia hosts first conference of Asian religious journalists
More than 70 journalists from 14 Asian countries will attend a conference in Indonesia from October 17-19 to improve coverage of stories involving often sensitive religious issues.
Emphasis will be placed on the need for objectivity and accuracy, in particular double-checking information or unfounded allegations.
The conference is jointly organized by the International Association of Religious Journalists (IARJ) and the Jakarta-based Association of Diversity Journalists.
Speakers from Nusantara Multimedia University of Indonesia as well as other universities will be involved.
Endy M. Bayuni, Executive Director of IARJ, said it would be the first such conference in Asia.
Indonesia was chosen as the host because it is a large multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.
Bayuni said the conference would help make regional media “part of the solution” rather than exacerbate religious intolerance.
“In Indonesia, journalists, consciously or unconsciously, can help spread hatred against a certain religion,” Bayuni said.
He called for the development of journalists’ knowledge of religion to be a higher priority while emphasizing the need for fairness and setting aside any personal prejudices.
The organizers plan to produce a book with guidelines on reporting stories involving religion.
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They cite past cases in which false reports on religious minorities, including some small Muslim sects in Indonesia, fueled violent attacks.