NAB Adds Religion-Coverage Tools for Broadcast Journalists

Expands online Awareness in Reporting help desk for covering sensitive topics
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The National Association of Broadcasters and its NAB Education Foundation have added a set of online "Reporting on Religion" tools to their "Awareness in Reporting" initiative, which provides practical advice for covering sensitive issues, in this case religious groups and movements.

The Awareness in Reporting initiative launched in 2015, with the first set of tools published for "Reporting on Race."

Shown at a panel session (above) on the topic at NAB headquarters Monday were (R-L): Bruce Johnson, anchor-reporter, WUSA9; Julie Asher, national editor, Catholic News Service; Rev. Steven D. Martin, director of Communications and Development, National Council of Churches; Tahera Rahman, news reporter, WHBF TV (Rock Island, Ill.); Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director, Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism; Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow, Sikh Coalition

Shown at a panel session (above) on the topic at NAB headquarters Monday were (R-L): Bruce Johnson, anchor-reporter, WUSA9; Julie Asher, national editor, Catholic News Service; Rev. Steven D. Martin, director of Communications and Development, National Council of Churches; Tahera Rahman, news reporter, WHBF TV (Rock Island, Ill.); Rabbi Jonah Pesner, director, Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism; Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow, Sikh Coalition

NAB tapped representatives from journalism education, training and diversity to help come up with the tools and help broadcast journalists cover "sensitive stories" on religion.

"Religion can be controversial and the beliefs and practices of faith groups–which they claim are divinely inspired–can be at odds with societal values or a journalist’s personal beliefs or worldview," the toolkit advises in its "general guidance" section. "The journalist’s role is to understand what people believe and practice and then explain those beliefs and practices to a broader audience."

For example, under Judaism, it says: "Seeking quick quotes and reaction from the most stereotypical perspectives reinforces bias and does not serve journalists well. Politically active Jewish groups can have widely differing opinions on public policy matters."

The Reporting on Religion tools were unpacked at a panel session at NAB headquarters in Washington Monday.

Television is still the most popular source of news for most Americans, with local broadcast TV news tops among TV outlets, according to Pew Research Center.