It is widely recognised that a disturbing number of people from Central Asia have been recruited into the ranks of violent extremist groups operating in Syria and Iraq over the past 10 years. It’s also evident that, while these groups have suffered significant setbacks in recent years, their membership has not evaporated and they have become sophisticated users of new technology. They have been effective in leveraging social media and online discussion groups to promote their interests and to recruit new members from across large geographic areas.
It is against this background that Internews, with the support of the European Union, launched an ambitious region-wide “Contributing to Stability and Peace in Central Asia” project with the principle aims of equipping media organisations to contribute towards the prevention of violent extremist growth in Central Asia. This multipronged approach has involved the provision of training to journalists, bloggers and other media professionals to equip them to report constructively on questions of radicalisation, extremism and terror. It has also involved the facilitation of courses for communications specialists from government departments, security agencies and religious bodies.
This Conflict Sensitive Approach to Reporting on Conflict and Violent Extremism Handbook has been developed as part of this project. It is intended to serve the following functions:
- A resource media trainers can draw on as they present courses to journalists dealing with these subjects.
- Supplementary information for journalists who have attended these courses and should reinforce lessons that have been learned
- An introduction to journalists who have not been able to attend these courses to many of the core principles that have been covered.
- Help for communication specialists to identify ways in which they can assist journalists wanting to make a constructive contribution through their reporting.
By assisting journalists to play a role in ameliorating the harmful effects of conflict, it is hoped that Internews can also empower them to contribute to the prevention of radicalisation and extremism leading to terror.