The International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) exists to support journalists reporting on religion worldwide. We have made it our mission to:
- Build a respected professional body and network of reporters which can deepen understanding of religion across national boundaries
- Provide a trusted source about world religions
- Contribute to meaningful dialogues on faith
- Become an indispensable resource for journalists worldwide reporting on religion
- Support our members who are facing discrimination and recrimination
What Guides Us
We know transparency, humility, integrity, fairness and excellence are crucial to reporting on religion. The role of a free and independent press is critical to the health and well-being of nations and their people, no matter their form of government. The right to a free press is fundamental to our freedom. Covering religious issues should not be dangerous.
Accurate, independent journalism focused on the role of religion in our individual and collective lives is critical to personal, community and global understanding. The IARJ brings together journalists from all parts of the world to collaborate, cooperate and learn from one another.
It all began with a vision of bringing together global journalists covering issues of belief, working together in a spirit of mutual respect to learn from one another. In preparation, we spent nearly three years holding five six-week course-dialogues with more than 200 religion writers from 90 nations. We visited hundreds more throughout the world to determine their ideas and recommendations.
In 2012, the IARJ held our first meeting at the Rockefeller Foundation’s center in Bellagio, Italy. More than 30 religion journalists from 23 nations gathered to share their experiences. Together we created the largest, most diverse and first truly global organization serving journalists covering issues of faith and belief.
Impact & Achievements
Since our founding, the IARJ has grown to be the premier network of prize-winning and skilled religion journalists around the globe. We continue to offer some of the most comprehensive resources for international journalists covering religion.
The IARJ has enhanced the skills of hundreds of journalists involved in covering religion news stories through the development of religion data resources, industry training, ethical guidelines, meetings and dialogues and through partnerships with related organizations.
We have promoted excellence, education and innovation in religion journalism through scholarships, fellowships, grants and prizes.
The IARJ produced and distributed eight major overviews of critical international issues in religion. This project—titled GlobalPlus—was co-sponsored by ARDA and written by global journalists who are some of the finest scholars in their field. In addition to high-quality, enduring resources for religion journalists, we have also provided them for educators, students, policy-makers and the general public.
To date, the IARJ has held 11 conferences in 9 countries, involving more than 200 journalists from more than 50 nations. Every event was organized by a committee of journalists native to the hosting region.
Our organization has become the largest and most trusted association of global religion writers through a leadership model that exemplifies mutual respect and dignity. Our board and staff are leading journalists from every continent.
Peggy Stack, Executive Director (United States)
At the IARJ
Peggy was a founding member of the IARJ. As executive director, she facilitates communication among the board and committees, helps organize conferences, and leads fundraising efforts.
Peggy Fletcher Stack is a veteran religion reporter for the Salt Lake City Tribune in Utah, USA. She was hired at the Tribune in 1991 to cover Utah’s various faiths, particularly Mormonism. Peggy has talked forgiveness with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, nearly fainted waiting for the Dalai Lama, fasted with Muslims during Ramadan — and has reported on 50 consecutive semiannual LDS General Conferences.
She has won dozens of religion-writing awards. Her team at the Tribune won a Pulitzer in 2017. She frequently travels the globe on assignment.
Uday Basu, Chairman of the Board (India)
At the IARJ
Uday Basu was associated for many years with the leadership of The Statesman, a leading English daily of India established by a British journalist, Robert Knight, in the latter half of the 19th century. He is widely respected around the world for his expertise in religion reporting.
Uday started as a junior reporter at The Statesman in 1979. Over the years, he served the paper in different capacities, writing thousands of articles, news reports, analyses on diverse subjects, including religion and politics. Eventually, he became the Coordinating Editor, the No 2 position after the Editor, for several years till his retirement in August 2020. Now he writes editorials for another important newspaper in eastern India, Orissa Post.
Endy Bayuni, Founding Board Member & Past Executive Director (Indonesia)
At the IARJ
Endy Bayuni is a founding member of the IARJ and served as executive director from 2016 to 2021. As part of the IARJ’s dialogue committee, he helps organize online discussion events.
Endy is an experienced and accomplished journalist, writing most frequently about Indonesian politics, foreign affairs, economic development, Islam and the media. He spent many years working for the Jakarta Post in various journalistic roles, including serving as the publication’s chief editor. Endy also wrote for Reuters from 1984 to 1991.
He is a board member of several non-government organizations, including the Partnership for Governance Reform Indonesia, Nature Conservancy Indonesia, and the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. In 2020, he joined the independent Oversight Board of Facebook (Meta).
Endy has received several journalism fellowships, including Senior Fellow at the East-West Center office in Washington, the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University and the Jefferson Fellowship at Hawaii University.
Pedro Brieger, Board Member (Argentina)
Pedro Brieger is an Argentinean journalist and sociologist who has been working in radio and TV for more than 30 years. He is the Director of NODAL: Noticias de América Latina y el Caribe (News from Latin America and the Caribbean) and a columnist for the C5N news network. Pedro is also a professor at Buenos Aires University and the author of many books and articles about religion and politics.
David Crumm, Web Editor (United States)
At the IARJ
As a board member, David Crumm helps manage the IARJ website. He is the primary editor and publisher of articles and other content on the website.
David Crumm is known nationwide to journalists and authors who cover the impact of religion, spirituality and cross-cultural issues on our world. For more than 30 years, David wrote about these topics primarily for American newspapers. He has reported from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
In 2007, David moved from newspapers to co-found the Read the Spirit online magazine and publishing house. The publishing side of this business eventually became Front Edge Publishing. Both Read the Spirit and Front Edge Publishing cover a wide range of issues, including religious and cultural diversity, caregiving, leadership, history, movies, holidays and peacemaking. Today, David continues as editor and co-founder of both.
David is a senior fellow with several universities and nonprofits, including the University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship and the Washington DC-based East-West Center. He is also an innovator in professional connections among journalists and authors, establishing a Michigan model for networking professional communicators.
Prince Charles Dickson, Board Member (Nigeria)
At the IARJ
As a board member of the IARJ, Prince Charles Dickson oversees the learning and sharing of knowledge on religious reporting in sub-Saharan Africa.
Prince Charles Dickson has decades of expertise in media, public policy, psychology and development practice. He is a syndicated columnist and has been a reporter, correspondent and editor, writing and contributing to several groundbreaking stories.
An experienced negotiator and arbitrator, Prince Charles is certified in religion and global politics, gender, conflict management and analysis and interfaith conflict resolution. He visits several colleges and institutes as a resource person for conflict-related studies. He is proficient in Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, English and French.
In addition to the IARJ, Prince Charles has membership and fellowships across a broad spectrum of professional bodies. He has several ongoing projects and consultations with INGOs, NGOs, CBDs, FBOs, state governments and their agencies. Prince Charles is the team lead for the Nigerian locally-based Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative and peacebuilding expert for the London-based project PeaceDirect.
Prince Charles is a graduate of the University of Jos, the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and the University of Texas. In addition, he holds a doctorate in Psychology (Policy & Human Development) from the Jesuit-run Georgetown University, Washington DC.
Jelena Jorgačević Kisić, Vice Chair (Serbia)
At the IARJ
Jelena Jorgačević Kisić served as a regional representative for Europe at the IARJ from 2020 to 2022. As of 2022, she is a vice-chair of the IARJ board. She is particularly active in the IARJ’s contest committee, which manages the Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award.
Jelena is a journalist for the Belgrade weekly publication Vreme. At Vreme, she primarily covers topics related to religion, education and human rights. Jelena also publishes texts in other domestic and foreign media. She has won several national journalism awards for her articles.
At the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, Jelena completed her undergraduate studies and obtained a master’s degree. She then completed a two-year master’s degree in Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt in Germany. Currently, Jelena is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
Jelena has organized and participated in numerous conferences and discussions related to the relationships between religion, society and the state; religion and the media; and inter-religious dialogue. She is the chairwoman of the non-governmental organization Forum for Religion, Media and Culture of Remembrance. Jelena was also the KAICIID Fellow in 2020.
Indeewari Amuwatte, Board Member (Sri Lanka)
At the IARJ
Indeewari serves on our IARJ board. In an earlier column for the IARJ, she described her values as a journalist: “Journalists have a massive and important role to play in not just resolving conflicts based on religion, but more importantly in preventing such conflict. We can and should take the lead in ensuring that the stories we relate do not undermine one community or glorify another. We should not unduly hurt individuals of different faith or be the reason hate towards one community or people of a certain faith is instilled. Being a journalist requires a great responsibility towards society, communities and individuals.”
Indeewari is a broadcaster based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She has covered Sri Lankan affairs for 16 years, including the final stages of civil war, which ended in 2009, to more recent developments in business, politics, religion and reconciliation. She began as a reporter at Channel One MTV (NewsFirst), then moved to ART Television for eight years and now works with Ada Derana. She hosts a weekly talk show, where she sits down with opinion leaders, academics, experts and politicians to delve deep into matters that affect every-day life.
Jonah Mandel, Founding Board Member (Israel)
At the IARJ
Jonah Mandel was a founding member of the IARJ and currently serves on our board. He helps organize conferences, puts together regional discussions, and oversees the work of the various committees.
Jonah Mandel is an English-language reporter with the French news agency AFP in Jerusalem, where he has been covering Israel and the Palestinian territories for the past decade. Previously, he was the religion reporter for the Jerusalem Post. Jonah was born in Canada and has spent most of his life in Israel.
Douglas Todd, Founding Board Member & Past Chair (Canada)
At the IARJ
A founding member of the IARJ, Douglas Todd served as chair from 2015 to 2021. He remains active on its board of directors and has attended 10 out of 11 of the IARJ’s conferences.
Douglas Todd is a highly decorated journalist and author specializing in global migration, religion, ethics and diversity. He writes primarily for the Vancouver Sun, Postmedia News and Religion News Service (Washington, D.C.).
As an author and editor, Douglas has released three successful books, the most recent being Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia – Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest.
Douglas has won a book prize and 34 journalism awards while being shortlisted for 40 additional honors. He has received several educational scholarships, including the eight-month Jack Shadbolt Fellowship in the Humanities at Simon Fraser University and an honorary doctorate from The Vancouver School of Theology. He frequently gives talks in Canada and around the world.
Elisa Di Benedetto, Managing Director (Italy)
At the IARJ
Elisa Di Benedetto is a founding member of the IARJ and currently acts as its Managing Director.
Passionate about communication in all its forms, Elisa is a freelance journalist and a writer based in northeastern Italy. Her areas of focus include cross-cultural and cross-religious issues, migration, Muslim communities in Italy, diversity and interfaith dialogue.
She is a member of the Board of Directors and the Leadership Council of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. Previous positions include Project Manager at the IARJ and trainer at the International Center For Journalists (ICFJ).
Elisa reported from Afghanistan and Lebanon and in recent years she has also worked as a language and cultural mediator with refugees.
A former recipient of the Henry Luce Fellowship in Washington DC, she is a member of the EU’s Global Exchange on Religion in Society (GERIS) network and of the EU Alumni Initiative. She speaks regularly at conferences and events about journalism and religion, migration and interfaith issues.
Elisa graduated in Communication Studies from Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna (Italy) and holds a post-graduate MA Degree in Peacekeeping and Security Studies from RomaTre University (Italy).
Larbi Megari, Arabic Editor (Algeria)
At the IARJ
Larbi Megari helps direct, manage and edit the content posted on this website.
Larbi Megari is a scholar who writes on the interplay of religion and media within an academic context. Aside from the IARJ, he occasionally writes for other media and organization websites, such as the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), the Media Diversity Institute and Algerian Television.
Larbi completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and an Applied Diploma in International Trade from Algiers University in Algeria. He subsequently obtained a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from London Metropolitan University in England and a PhD in Information and Communication Sciences from Tours University in France. Larbi is certified in English Proficiency from Cambridge University in England.
Martin Davis, Communications Specialist (United States)
Martin has been a professional Washington, D.C.-based journalist for over 20 years. He is most recently the Opinion Page Editor for The Free Lance-Star newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Martin published his first book in 2022, entitled 30 Days with America’s High School Coaches. His writings have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Philanthropy, PGA Tour magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and many newspapers across the country. Martin’s current writing interests include the restoration of civil society in local communities and the importance of preserving and strengthening traditional public school education.