The challenges faced by journalists reporting on tension and violence whether in conflicts or acts of terrorism are tackled in a new guidebook being prepared by the Thomson Foundation for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
It is being compiled following a three day workshop attended by representatives from 15 of the OIC member states including Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Lebanon and Afghanistan in response to a call from a meeting of OIC Information Ministers held in Jeddah in December 2016.
Speaking at the workshop, Dr. Mahjoub Bensaeed, the head of the information centre at the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) said there was an urgent need for an objective guidebook that would be mindful of the ethical and professional aspects in the media coverage of terrorist events in the absence of clear reporting policies both in the Islamic world and outside.
The guide builds on the themes discussed at the workshop including: international perspective, balance and fairness, countering bias, combating Islamophobia, avoiding unwitting publicity for terrorist propaganda, verifying events published on the web as well as their sources and narratives, practices and tools for social-media verification and the anticipated role of media in combating hate-speech.
It’s being compiled by Dr James Rodgers the head of International Journalism Studies at City, University of London and a former BBC correspondent with contributions from Christiaan Treibert a digital forensics researcher with the online investigative organisation, Bellingcat.
“The purpose of this handbook is to help journalists and other media professionals as they face the huge challenges involved in reporting incidents of political violence,” says Dr Rodgers. “For journalists, these include not only the obvious physical dangers, but also multiple ethical and editorial dilemmas – not least those of language.”
The guide will be distributed by the OIC in Arabic, English or French to journalists working in its member states.
Thomson Foundation has been working with the OIC to increase its international profile and raise awareness of its role in reflecting the views of its 57 member states. It's been training OIC media and communications staff in the use of social and digital media and in mobile and video filming skills.
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