Issues related to religion show up frequently in news coverage in European media. News reports regularly describe the intertwining of religion with migration, politics, culture and public life. Faith plays a role in the growing polarization in society, the rise of populist parties in almost every country, and the challenges posed by fake news and hate speech.

In this context, journalists in Europe face an increasingly complex task in their newsrooms. To explore these complex topics, the International Association of Religion Journalists is holding a regional conference in Warsaw (Poland) on June 13-14 under the title Journalism and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe.

Historic gates of the University of Warsaw
Historic gates of the University of Warsaw. Photo by Guillaume Speurt from Vilnius, Lithuania, via Wikimedia Commons.

The conference, hosted by the Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies of the University of Warsaw (UW), is gathering some 30 participants. The majority of them are journalists from region, but there are also some IARJ representatives from Western Europe, North America and the Maghreb, along with a few scholars and religious leaders of Central and Eastern European countries.

The journalists of the region in which the conference focuses come from: Hungary, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Public Session on June 13:
Research and Dialogue on Religion, History, Politics in Eastern Europe

Most of the conference is by invitation only and is closed to the public. However, there is one major event open to the public, sponsored by the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), This session takes also place at the UW Faculty of Journalism, and will be streamed online.

The session, titled From Solidarity forward: The tangled web of religion, history and politics in Eastern Europe, takes place Thursday June 13 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, introduced by Janusz Adamowski, dean of the Faculty of Journalism. In this public session, Polish scholars Christopher Garbowski and Malgorzata Glowacka-Grajper and Bulgarian scholar Ina Merdjanova will explore the topic from their respective areas of research.

Overall Conference Themes:
How to cover minorities, migration, hate speech—and more

In the various panels during the two days of the conference, the participating journalists will discuss issues such as journalistic treatment of religious and cultural minorities; coverage of migration, religion and politics; reporting on the Vatican and the Catholic Church, and on Orthodox Churches; and how to counteract hate speech and fake news, among others.

Conferences are part of IARJ and ARDA Goals

The International Association of Religion Journalists’ mission statement reads:

L'Associazione internazionale dei giornalisti religiosi (IARJ) è una rete globale di giornalisti che promuove l'eccellenza nella copertura della religione e della spiritualità. Fornisce servizi e risorse per rafforzare e sostenere il lavoro dei suoi membri. Coinvolge i leader dei media, le istituzioni educative e le comunità sull'importanza di una copertura religiosa accurata, equilibrata ed etica per promuovere la comprensione.

The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) provides free access to the most authoritative religion statistics, data and church membership reports from around the world.

Unique focus of UW faculty in Poland

The Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies of the University of Warsaw (Wydział Dziennikarstwa, Informacji i Bibliologii) is the first and only scientific unit in Poland that concentrates its scientific and didactic activity on three disciplines that define contemporary interpersonal communication: It focuses on the media, information studies, and book studies.

The European Academy of Religion (EuARe)

The objectives of the conference Journalism and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe also relate to the general goals of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe) The IARJ is an active member of this European platform for research, communication and exchange on religious topics in universities and society.

Connect with us on social media

News from the conference will be marked with the hashtag: #IARJWarsaw

Library garden at University of Warsaw
Library garden at University of Warsaw. Photo by Laima Gūtmane, via Wikimedia Commons.