This reporting guide is designed to help journalists report ethically and sensitively on issues related to sexual and gender minorities and religion in order to improve coverage of these issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. As explained in the guide: “In Sub-Saharan Africa, as in much of the world, reporting on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) can be tricky. Cultural taboos, entrenched stereotypes, social hostilities, legal prohibitions and editorial censorship often distort coverage of these sensitive topics. Add religion to the mix and producing responsible journalism on sexual and gender minorities can seem impossible.”
The guide is based on a workshop held by Religion News Foundation in November 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. The workshop included 24 professional journalists and editors representing 15 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. In the workshop, participants: looked at the motivations and professional obligations of journalists; reviewed key concepts and terms around SOGIE issues and religion; shared regional media freedom challenges and opportunities from participating journalists; analysed structural roots of inequality; brainstormed story ideas, angles, and sources; strategised how best to protect source safety and sensitivity; and debated issues around news value and public interest.
This guide summarises the key topics discussed at the workshop and provides readers with a list of resources and sources to enhance their own coverage of these issues. It includes a reporting resolution, drafted as a group exercise at the end of the Cape Town training, which reflects some of the best practices journalists identified to improve coverage of sexual and gender minorities and religion. It highlights the principles of truth and accuracy, independence, fairness and impartiality, humanity, and accountability, and offers guidance on how to recognise and avoid hate speech. It also includes final versions of trainees’ stories, which originated during the workshop and evolved in the weeks that followed under Religion News Foundation’s editorial guidance and support.
The guide includes the following sections:
- Reporting Resolution
- Ethical Human Rights Reporting Principles
- Key SOGIE Terminology.
- Sorting SOGIE Myths from Facts
- Religion Reporting Tips
- Source Safety and Sensitivity
- Tips for Reporting on Taboo Topics
- How to Report on SOGIE Issues
- How NOT to Report on SOGIE Issues
- Faith Leaders’ Perspectives
- Trainee Stories
- Training Schedule
- Additional Resources and Readings
- Sub-Saharan Source Guide
- Trainer and Speaker Biographies
The guide was published by Religion News Foundation and Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa with additional support from the Arcus Foundation.
Religion Link website on April 11 2017.