Indonesian Media Needs to Cover Religion, Not Radicals: IARJ

by Camelia Pasandaran on 12:37 pm May 9, 2013.

Indonesian media need to work together to ensure that religious extremists don’t have a voice in print, the International Association of Religion Journalists said on Wednesday.

“Don’t give any room to the hard-liners,” said Endy Bayuni, of the steering committee of IARJ. “Please cover them when they’re violating the law, but don’t give space to small group of people when they rally against something absurd. They used the media effectively and deceive the media to suit their own means.”

Journalists’ objectivity — which is usually present in business and political news — often gets forgotten when covering religion, Endy said before listing off examples of bias in coverage of religious conflicts with Shiites and Ahmadiyah.

“Islamophobia in the West in the past could not be set aside from the media,” Endy said. “The growing hatred among Muslims toward people of different religions is also influenced by the media. When Indonesian media covered attacks against Ahmadiyah and Shia, many in the media called them heretics.”

The media should staff a religion beat with reporters committed to providing balanced and objective coverage, Endy said. Senior staffers need to remind young journalists of their responsibility to pluralism, he said.

“In most of [Indonesian] media, religion is not a prioritized beat,” he said. “There’s rarely news about religion on the front page or at the top of the news on TV unless it is a scandal or it involves violence. Even if the media does cover religion, they fail to do it according to good journalism standards”.


Categories: Asia, Indonesia

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