An international non-profit organization, Search for Common Ground, has called for responsible journalism that contributes to peaceful coexistence and celebrates the diversity of religious beliefs in Nigeria.
Acting Country Director of Search for Common Ground Nigeria, Fatima Madaki, made the call during a 3-day workshop on “Curriculum Development for Common Ground Approach to Reporting with Relation to Freedom of Religion or Belief” on Wednesday in Abuja.
Madaki, emphasized the importance of journalism in promoting understanding and unity in a diverse society, especially when it comes to sensitive topics like religion.
According to her, ethical journalism bridges divides for positive change, dispels misinformation, and contributes to a world where freedom of religion or belief is celebrated.
She added that the goal is to encourage responsible journalism that contributes to peaceful coexistence and celebrates the diversity of religious beliefs in Nigeria.
“We gather here with a shared purpose – to explore the powerful role that journalism can play in fostering understanding, empathy, and unity in our diverse world, particularly in the context of freedom of religion or belief,” she said.
On the workshop, she expressed confidence that it will focus on how to report on matters of faith respectfully, avoid causing divisions, and communicate effectively across different cultures and religions.
“Our workshop’s focus on conflict-sensitive reporting, within the framework of freedom of religion or belief, acknowledges the complexities that arise when covering issues that can be deeply personal and intertwined with cultural, social, and political dynamics. We recognize that these issues are not just news stories; they are narratives that shape identities, values, and relationships.
“As we engage in these discussions, let us remember that our collective commitment to ethical journalism is a catalyst for positive change. By understanding and embracing the principles of common ground journalism, we can bridge divides, dispel misinformation, and contribute to a world where freedom of religion or belief is celebrated as a cornerstone of diversity and harmony,” she said.
On his part, the Project Manager of Search for Common Ground, Daniel Ogabiela, said the project involves creating a curriculum for media professionals. Media stakeholders are involved in its development to address a gap in the media sector’s insensitive reporting leading to conflict. The project aims to train media practitioners in conflict-sensitive reporting to enhance freedom of religion and belief.
“What we are doing here is the development of a curriculum called ‘Common Ground Journalism’ for media practitioners. We brought in stakeholders to develop the curriculum that we can now use to train other media practitioners on conflict-sensitive reporting.
“This is because we discovered a gap in the media sector where people report incidents in an insensitive way, leading to more conflict. We believe that by working with media practitioners, which is one of the strategic objectives of our project, we can conduct training on conflict-sensitive reporting. This will help us collaborate in enhancing freedom of religion and belief,” he said.
Promoting and Protecting Freedom of Religion and Belief, PP-FORB is a 36-month project funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Abuja, Nigeria with an overall goal to empower actors to prevent and address conflicts along religious lines.