Home Office funds guide to reporting race and religion

Former editor Geoff Elliott has been commissioned to write a booklet advising editors and journalists on the reporting of race and faith.

He is seeking examples of best practice across the regional and national press and among broadcasters.

Different faiths and agencies working among immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are also being consulted.

The booklet will be funded by the Home Office and endorsed by the Society of Editors and the Media Trust.

Elliott, who is a former editor of the The News in Portsmouth, Coventry Evening Telegraph and Kent Messenger, and the founding president of the Society of Editors, said the idea was not to tell editors how to run their newspapers.

“But from time to time we can all learn from others, and there are notable examples of good practice that may help to reduce the offence that can sometimes be caused to the vulnerable,” he said.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said the booklet would help journalists in a similar way to how they had begun to learn to avoid pitfalls in writing about disabled people and people with mental illnesses.

“There are, after all, compelling business as well as ethical reasons for doing the job knowledgeably and without causing offence,” he said.

“Readership can depend on it.”

The project has developed from discussions of a practitioner group called together by the Community Cohesion Unit at the Home Office.

A number of senior journalists from nationals and regionals have been involved. They have included Nick Carter, editor of the Leicester Mercury.

Elliott, who also headed the journalism department at the University of Central Lancashire, wants to hear from anyone with a contribution to make. He can be contacted on 01297 553510 or elliott@willow.fsnet.co.uk


Birmingham Evening Mail reporter Jamsheed Dinn (inset picture) almost single handedly put together a supplement to mark Islam Awareness Week.

It was his idea to produce a supplement highlighting Muslims who are proud to be Brummies and providing an insight into the Muslim community. As well as finding stories, Jamsheed found a sponsor and advertisers to help fund the project.

He said: “Birmingham has a massive Muslim population. The idea was to produce copy that would dispel misconceptions about Muslims and show how Muslims have contributed to the city.”

Evening Mail editor Roger Borrell has received dozens of letters from members of the Muslim community offering thanks and congratulations for the supplement.

By Jon Slattery

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