Milica Pesic and Tamara Gojkovic (17/12/2021). Inclusive Journalism. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio. https://platformglossary.info/inclusive-journalism/.
Authors: Milica Pesic and Tamara Gojkovic
In increasingly diverse societies, the label ‘developing democracies’ refers to countries in transition to democracy. The need for fair, accurate, and responsible journalism stands at the top of the requests for rebuilding media for a democratic future. The process of reforming the media system after a conflict, or a long period of absence of democratic institutions, in different countries, restates this need acknowledging that the reform should involve the media/journalistic sector. Journalism is a vehicle to public conversation and civic action, and strengthening journalism training and education contributes to strengthening its value for society.
The UNESCO Media Development Indicators (MDI), tailored to identify how media reflect the diversity of society to fulfill its democratic potential, underline the importance of the presence of minority groups in mainstream media. Other free speech organizations, with a critical approach, have been recognizing the significance of diversity, pointing out that freedom of expression should be enjoyed by all citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity, faith, religion, language, gender, social status (dis)abilities or sexual orientation.
In 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, along with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of African States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, made a joint Declaration on Promoting diversity in the Broadcast Media. The declaration stressed that:
[t]he fundamental importance of diversity in the media to the free flow of information and ideas in society, in terms both of giving voice to and satisfying the information needs and other interests of all, as protected by international guarantees of the right to freedom of expression.
The United Nation’s notion of an inclusive society, ‘society for all’, overrides differences of race, gender, class, generation, and geography and ensures inclusion, equality of opportunity, and capability of all members of the society. Among the prerequisites for an inclusive society – respect for all human rights, freedom, the rule of law, and a solid civic society – equal access to public information and tolerance for cultural diversity education, are also critical. Furthermore, it provides opportunities to learn the history and culture of one’s own and other societies, which cultivates the understanding and appreciation of different societies, cultures, and religions. In addition, the ‘inclusive society’ implies a radical set of changes through which society restructures itself to embrace all of its members.
Journalism that can relate to the idea of inclusive society can be called ‘inclusive journalism’. Inclusive journalism challenges the status quo to prevent media from intentionally or unintentionally spreading prejudice, intolerance, and hate. This idea is rooted in and inseparable from the political notion of inclusive democracy.
Used interchangeably, inclusive democracy and inclusive society indicate a political system that goes beyond recognizing formal equality of all individuals and involves taking actions and special measures to compensate for inequalities of unjust social structures. Young (2002:53)1 says that
democratic norms mandate inclusion as a criterion of the political legitimacy of outcomes” and distinguishes two forms of social exclusion: (1) ‘external’, when there is an exposed exclusion of groups and individuals from the decision-making process; and (2) ‘internal’, when “the terms of discourse make assumptions some do not share, the interaction privileges specific styles of expression, the participation of some people is dismissed as out of order (ibid).
The objective of inclusive journalism and educating and training journalists in an increasingly diverse society is to develop inclusive communicative competence. This ability involves reflective thinking, the experience of social, political, and cultural pluralism, recognition of otherness, and critical stand towards the process of constructing identities. Inclusive journalism acts as a catalyst for society to get informed knowledge of its diverse ‘self’ and an understanding of the relationship between the individual and community.
Unfortunately, most university journalism programs are so focused on developing academic disciplines by integrating theory and practice that they dislocate journalism from its natural embeddedness into the community. Mensing (2011)2 notes that most university journalism programs preserve the structure of education based on the industrial model of journalism. The author argues that “moving the focus of attention from the industry to community networks could reconnect journalism with its democratic roots and take advantage of new forms of news creation, production, editing, and distribution” (2011, p. 16)3. In transition countries and post-conflict societies, this dislocation could have profound consequences.
The essential curriculum for inclusive journalism, based on MDI’s work, is comprised of the following modules:
- Developing Sensitivity to Diversity: type of a module that aims to foster students understanding of the experiences of minorities;
- How Diversity Is Reported: traditional academic module based on using standard techniques of news story content analysis enabling students to reach an understanding of how their society’s media cover diversity issues;
- Reporting Diversity practice-based module for students to gain experience of the issues involved in covering minority affairs; and
- Social Diversity and the Media: standard teaching (lectures/essays) module, using elements taken from several academic disciplines (e.g., Sociology, Social Psychology and Political Science) that deal with the issue of social diversity and may offer valuable insights to journalism students, such as theories of media power and social function.
In all modules developed through the MDI’s inclusive journalism program, the question of assessment is a vital tool for enabling students to engage critically with social diversity and acquire the skills necessary to conceptualize and produce a brilliant piece of journalism. Module assessment that combines academic and journalistic work has proved to be the model that the majority of journalism educators listed as the best way to evaluate different qualities in journalistic take on diversity issues. This “holistic and highly contextualized assessment” (Biggs, 1999:152)4 requires an active demonstration of knowledge of contemporary journalism. It deals with functional expertise by setting up tasks that are an exciting and challenging learning experience for students rather than taking it as a judgmental instrument in the academic analysis of media. The assessment that includes formative and summative procedures might take different forms, as outlined in some of the modules developed within the MDIs inclusive journalism curriculum framework.
Rupar, V., & Pesic, M. (2012). Inclusive journalism and rebuilding democracy. In: N. Sakr, H. Basyouni. Rebuilding Egyptian media for democratic future. Cairo, Egypt: Aalam Al Kotob Publisher. 135-153.
- Young, Iris Marion. (2002). Inclusion and democracy [electronic resource] / Iris Marion Young. Notes: Electronic reproduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Oxford scholarship online). Publisher: Oxford: Oxford University Press. Internet.
- Mensing, D. (2011). Realigning journalism education. In: Franklin, B., Mensing. D. Journalism Education, Training and Employment. New York: Routledge. 15-32.
- Biggs, J. (1999). Teaching for quality learning at university. Great Britain: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.