Nearly two-thirds of all conflicts have a cultural, religious, or ethnic component. TheUNAOC Media Program is grounded in the philosophy that media have a critical role to play in increasing public understanding of such conflicts and of issues that polarize communities. The media’s reach and ability to influence public opinion makes it vital for journalists to fully understand the subject they cover, as well as their audiences in order to secure the most accurate, balanced and informative reporting possible.
However, creating this type of quality content does not come easy, given the context of the news industry. With tight deadlines, increasingly scarce budgets and a proliferation of online resources, finding accurate, fair, and informed sources has never been so crucial.
Aiming to provide today’s media with tangible tools and opportunities, the UNAOC Media Program is principally concerned with the following objectives:
- Convene editors and owners to raise awareness around sensitive cross cultural issues (religion, diversity, migration, etc) and establish a platform for dialogue
- Offer skill building and training exercises for journalists and provide a unique cross cultural approach both on content and format
- Monitor media content and coverage of cross-cultural issues
- Increase journalists and public understanding of complex cross cultural issues through online resources
Editors and Media Owners Engagement
The Media Program raises awareness of cross-cultural issues by engaging with editors and media owners on a regular basis. Seminars and workshops involving high-level professionals and experts are held regularly. These result in concrete action taken by the participants to further the quality of information available.
- Covering Migration Challenges Met and Unmet: Swiss Edition, March 2013
- Covering Migration Challenges Met and Unmet: Paris Edition, January 2013
- Covering Migration Challenges Met and Unmet: Paris Edition Outcomes, February 2013
Skill and Capacity Building for Journalists
The Media Program creates frequent opportunities for journalists around the world to enhance their skills via trainings and exposure to their peers from different parts of the world.
Most recently, the Media Program secured an important partnership with Google and the World Bank Institute, developing a series of media trainings called “Digital Tools for Newsgathering and Reporting Across Cultures.” These workshops help journalists learn how to communicate with their audience appropriately via social media as well as strategies to improve their online information gathering and processing skills.
In order to help build journalistic skills, the Media Program provided the opportunity to a selection of several journalists from various parts of the world to report on the UNAOC Global Forum, where they networked, interacted and learned from peers as well as experienced trainers.
The program is always working to organize in-person and online training opportunities focusing on enhancing cross-cultural relations through media coverage.
- Six-week online training course with The New York Times Knowledge Network, October 2011
- Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age Training, February 2010
Monitor Media Content and Coverage
The UNAOC Media Program facilitates studies regarding how the media covers various cross-culturally sensitive issues pertinent in today’s news. The results of these studies are shared with the general public and media outlets to recognize well-done coverage as well as shed light on media practices in need of revision.
In partnership with the European Journalism Centre, five academic institutions (King’s University, Deutsche Welle Akadamie, Missouri School of Journalism, Christelijke Hogeschool Ede, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel) and funding from the Open Society Foundation, the UNAOC launched a data journalism project to study how the media covers migration.
- Data Journalism Informational Video, February 2013
- Data Journalism Results, February 2013
- Data Journalism Slideshow, February 2013
The Global Experts is an online resource connecting journalists with world-class experts who provide commentary and diversify opinions on issues and crises involving political, social and religious dimensions. The website gives journalists access to a series of high-level experts available to give in-depth commentary on current cross-culturally difficult topics. Global Experts regularly sends out media alerts with suggestions of which experts are best for the particular story, in order to help journalists acquire the most accurate story while respecting tight deadlines. The Global Experts also develops article series written by experts and then shared with prominent newspapers around the world, delving in-depth on specific cross-cultural issues.
- Youth, Civic Engagement and Democratic Processes article series, March 2012
- Religion and Public Space article series, May 2011
Multimedia Projects and Videos on cross-cultural issues
The UNAOC Media Program conducts a number of multimedia and video projects aimed at providing journalists with a better understanding of complex issues. These videos produced in cooperation with various partners (British Council and Missouri School of Journalism) on a series of issues, featuring a diverse array of experts’ opinions and analysis on common themes. Some of these themes include the importance of religion symbols, hybrid communities; positive civil society initiatives that mitigate conflicts, and more.
- Covering Migration (Videos 1, 2,3, 4, 5) January 2013
- 100 Questions about Islam, February 2012
- Journeys of Belonging, November 2012
Events and Debates
The UNAOC Media Program regularly organizes events and debates on issues of interest to media professionals and the public at large, convening experts and media professionals.
- Panel discussion on diversity in the media, Washington DC, November 2012
- Major Media Conference in Tahrir Square, Cairo, April 2011
- Debate on Future of Muslim-West relations at New York Times, July 2010