More about the International Association of Religion Journalists

In early 2012, the International Center for Journalists launched the world’s first global association of journalists who cover religious issues. The International Association of Religion Journalists will offer collegial forums for dialogue and cooperation, online and in-person training, and a wealth of resources and data to promote better coverage of religious issues.

ICFJ is partnering with the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) on this project. IARJ will offer religion journalists:

  • A respected professional body that can transcend national and regional biases to become a compelling voice, a trusted source of support and an indispensable resource for journalists worldwide reporting on religion.

  • A comprehensive website, complete with an international directory of journalists covering religion, that offers a place to learn from one another and work together on international stories.

  • Original stories and special access to the finest and most up-to-date research on religion throughout the world. Guided tools such as mapping features, tutorials and specially designed search engines will enable journalists to get deadline access to the most relevant data on hundreds of subjects and the role of religion in nearly every nation in the world.

  • Courses, dialogues and online forums enabling journalists to discuss contemporary issues in international religion journalism, and share best practices for coverage.

  • News of the latest job and fellowship opportunities related to international coverage of religion.

The association’s board of directors and membership will be representative of every region of the world. The new organization formally launched in March 2012 at a conference at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy. Journalists are being invited now to help develop the association and have early access to the website and other resources. Journalists may apply here to join the effort.

The International Center for Journalists, which has worked directly with more than 65,000 journalists from 180 countries, held a 2008-09 conference on religion journalism in Istanbul. Among other efforts, the center since then has offered three six-week courses on international religion coverage that attracted nearly 600 applicants for 120 spots.

From this pool of international writers and editors, 99 percent of respondents said in post-course surveys it is important to create an international association of religion journalists; nearly nine in 10 respondents said such an association is very important.

Earlier this year, the ICFJ entered into a partnership with ARDA, based at Pennsylvania State University, to provide tutorials, primers by leading scholars and other resources specially designed to help reporters access the best data on religious beliefs and practices throughout the world. The archives offer free access to more than 600 major surveys and studies, including groundbreaking research on international religious freedom that provides several measures of government and social regulation of religion in 198 countries.

In a world where seven out of every eight nations with populations over 2 million had documented cases of violence or displacement due to religious persecution, the new International Association of Religion Journalists is an historic, lasting effort giving global journalists the resources, support and organization to move forward together to provide fair and accurate reporting on religion.