The project is national in its ambit, funded by the Commonwealth Government’s Attorney General’s Department via the Queensland Police Service who have contracted lead investigators Associate Professor Jacqui Ewart and Professor Mark Pearson to undertake the research under a national competitive grant process.
Stage 1 of the project was undertaken over the 2014-2015 financial year involving a review of the literature on news media coverage of Islam and Muslim people, case studies of media reportage across media types at national and community levels, interviews with experts in the field, distillation of international studies to develop a schema for assessing reportage against world best practice in the area, and a compilation of a report on these findings with recommendations for the development of a suite of curricula, training and resources to better equip the news media for more mindful reporting in this space.
Stage 2 of the project (2015-2016) required the development and trial of a suite of research-based training and education resources for Australian media practitioners to encourage more informed reporting of Muslims and the Islamic faith. A proposed further Stage 3 (2016-2017) would finalise and roll out those resources if successful.
Stage 2 required the development of the following over the 2015-2016 financial year:
- A database-supported app for Mac and Android as an easy access tool for information, reporting tips and suggestions for journalists and journalism students;
- A Website to host electronic copies of training and education materials and to provide an interface with identified stakeholders and collaborators via comment streams and social media engagement see https://reportingislam.org
- Case studies and print materials for the initial trial of resources including copies of existing news reports in various formats with an analysis of the issues that arose in the course of their coverage;
- Audio-visual material focusing on scenarios/role playing in relation to possible issues that might arise in the research and reporting of stories about Islam and Muslims;
- A Handbook of Reportage for journalism, focusing on tips and suggestions for covering stories involving Islam and Muslims, as well as suggestions for considering legal issues that might arise in the course of covering such stories. These resources were successfully developed and trialled by a broad range of media practitioners including editors and news directors, sub-editors and producers, social media editors, digital media professionals, journalists, journalism educators and journalism students at selected locations across Australia.
The project requires considerable ongoing input from both academic experts in news reporting of Islam and Muslims and Muslim community members. A forum was held with industry and academic experts and Muslim community leaders early in Stage 2 of the project and they provided feedback on the initial project concept plans.
An expert advisory panel including key Muslim community members, international academic experts, educators and media industry personnel has been consulted throughout the project as the resources have been developed and trialled.
Advice and input has been actively sought from academics and members of Muslim communities in developing and reviewing these resources. Every effort is being made to include Muslims in the project to ensure that the voice of Australian Muslims resonates throughout the training and education resources.
Our project manager Dr Abdi Hersi was recently awarded his Ph.D in Islamic studies. It is believed that fair, ethical and accurate reporting on matters involving Islam and Muslim communities will help promote community cohesion and may assist in the reduction of community tensions. This is an independent research contract being conducted by Griffith University researchers.
Project Leaders: Associate Professor Jacqui Ewart and Professor Mark Pearson
Project Value: $444,730
Type of Funding: Commonwealth Government's Attorney General's Department
Dates: Stage 2 dates: July 2015 - August 2016
Theme/s: Policing and Security