Religious freedom, human rights, and inter-religious relations are among the most contested values today.

Journalism today needs to be expert in the reporting and analysis of religion as it relates to the political and social realities of specific regions, religions and issues. Sponsored by the Griffith University Multi‐Faith Centre and the International Association of Religion Journalists, the symposium will showcase Australia’s capacity to lead in the Asia‐Pacific region by bringing in journalists from around the world to share their experiences with and learn from local journalists.

Paul Marshall | Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC, author of Blind Spot, When Journalists Don't Get Religion

Endy Bayuni | Chief Editor of Jakarta Post, Indonesia, specializing in religious issues; educator.

Peggy Fletcher Stack | Senior religion writer, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey | National correspondent, Religion News Service, Former managing editor of Odyssey Networks, and online editor for Christianity Today.

These speakers will be joined by:

Rachael Kohn | host of ABC RadioNational’s “The Spirit of Things”

Scott Stephens | Religion and Ethics Editor for ABC Online.


  • The role of bias and objectivity in religion journalism
  • Alternative media outlets reporting on faith
  • Balancing minority group issues with majority group issues
  • The secularization of religious conflicts
  • Personal and professional challenges to reporting on faith
  • How faith groups can engage positively with the media
  • Covering religion in the digital age

Venue: QCA Lecture Theater (S05_2.04), Griffith University South Bank Campus, Australia

Date: Wednesday 30 October and Thursday 31 October 2013

About the Multi Faith Centre

Founded in 2002, the Multi-­Faith Centre is a place where people from diverse faith, religious and spirituality traditions can deepen their understanding of their own faith and actively participate in inter-­faith dialogue, education and action. The Multi-Faith Centre operates according to the following principles: Recognition of the reality of religious pluralism, and the multi-faith and multi-cultural nature of Australian society Respect for the rights of participants to their own religious traditions and practices Promotion of dialogue between people of different religions, faiths and philosophy Working co-operatively towards a fair and just society – locally, nationally and globally.


As Director of the Multi-Faith Centre, it is my honour to welcome delegates to the International Religion Journalism Symposium. Last year, we celebrated the centre’s tenth anniversary. I can think of no better way to kick off the centre’s next decade of work than a gathering of global thinkers, journalists and religious leaders on such an important topic.

I look forward to meeting you all in Australia this October.


Dr. Brian Adams

PhD (Political Science and International Studies)

MIS (Peace and Conflict Studies)

MSS (International Community Development)


Register for the International Symposium on Religion Journalism.

The registration process is managed by EventBrite who provides a secure online payment service. Payment details terms and tax receipt details are listed on their page. Payment for registration can be made by credit card.

Registration Fees

  • Concession (students with valid ID): $50/one day; $80/two days
  • Griffith staff (with valid ID): $75/one day; $120/two days
  • General: $100/one day; $160/two days

Register Now and Save

You can save 20% off your registration fee if you register for both days. Save an additional 10% if you register before 30 August 2013.The final deadline for registering online will be 15 October 2013.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

8:30 - 9:00 Registration

9:00 - 9:15 Welcome - Opening Remarks

9:15 - 10:15 Keynote: Paul Marshall - Why Journalist Don't Get Religion

10:15 - 10:30 Tea

10:30 - 11:30 Session A: Journalistic Imperatives in Covering Religion

11:30 - 12:30 Session B: Questions of Objectivity in Religion Journalism

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 - 2:30Session C: Covering Religion in the Digital Age

2:30 - 3:30 Session D: Alternative Media Reporting on Faith (Citizens Journalism)

3:30 - 3:45 Tea

3:45 - 4:15 Short Keynote: Alan Wakely - Religious Freedom and the Main Stream Media

4:15 - 4:45 Short Keynote: Paul Morris - Religion Issues and Media in New Zealand

4:45 - 5:00 Closing Remarks

Thursday 31 October 2013

8:30 - 9:00 Registration

9:00 - 9:10 Welcome

9:10 - 10:00 Keynote: Endy Bayuni Reporting and Religion in Indonesia

10:00 - 11:00 Session E: Minority Issues Versus Majority Issues

11:00 - 11:30 Tea

11:30 - 12:30 Keynote: Peggy Fletcher Stack Covering a Mormon Presidential Candidate

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 - 2:00 Short Keynote: Navras Aafreedi: Press as a Tool for Achieving Interfaith Peace: The Case of Weekly Press Pakistan

2:00-4:00 Workshops A&B:

  • Unpacking a News Story: Religion’s Protected Status in Australia (for students in S07_1.23)
  • Making a Story into News (for faith communities)

4:00 - 4:30 Closing Remarks

6:30 for 7:00 Public Forum: Religion as a Weapon of War or Peace? At ABC Studios.


Journalistic Imperatives in Covering Religion

This panel will explore how religion journalists here and abroad cover religion in their region. We’ll address the difficulties of government interference and the pressures of popular or politically correct views on journalists reporting challenging faith subjects. Endy Bayuni will speak on the challenges of reporting about religion in Indonesia, where 88 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. Barney Zwartz and Rachael Kohn will consider issues facing Australian journalists reporting on faith.

Questions of Objectivity in Religion Journalism

This panel will consider what objectivity looks like in religion reporting. How can reporters cover sensitive issues that may challenge their core beliefs? Questions about biases and balance will also be addressed. While many media outlets claim to provide balanced coverage, an unquestioning pursuit of balance can be counterproductive to truth telling. The unbiased position of news reporters will be challenged and the importance of a point of view in reporting will be explored.

Covering Religion in the Digital Age

This panel will explore some innovative news projects in faith journalism that utilize social media and new technologies in reporting.

Alternative Media Reporting on Faith

This panel will consider how citizen journalism projects and faith-­‐supported publications report on religion. What sort of approach do non-traditional journalists take on stories that affect their own community? What responsibilities do citizen journalists have to ethical considerations when reporting on faith? And how important are these alternative and citizen-­‐led media projects to democracy?

Minority Issues Versus Majority Issues

This panel will explore how journalists can balance coverage of minority group concerns with majority group issues. We’ll look at when and why coverage of issues becomes disproportionate to their real importance. We’ll ask if media coverage should be proportionate to population size in a given country. Finally, we’ll explore the dangers of giving more airtime to one particular group over another.

Workshop for Students: Unpacking a Religion News Story

This panel will examine the protected status of religion under Australian law that allows faith-­‐based organizations to discriminate against certain groups of people when providing services. What are the important angles of the story that have been explored? And how would you as a journalist report on this story?

Workshop for Faith Representatives: Making a Story into News

What exactly makes a religious event or controversy newsworthy? This workshop will go through the steps faith communities should take to pitch a story and get noticed by mainstream media outlets.

Public Event: Religion as a Weapon of War or Peace?

This panel will address the assumption that conflicts are about secular political issues and not deep cultural or religious differences. We’ll ask whether religion is being used as a weapon in conflicts today, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Finally, we'll ask what journalists are missing by glossing over the religious stakes and players in global conflicts.


Endy Bayuni | Chief Editor of The Jakarta Post

Peggy Fletcher Stack | Senior religion writer for Salt Lake Tribune

Rachael Kohn | Producer and host of ABC Radio National’s The Spirit of Things

Paul Marshall | Co-author of Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom

Halim Rane | Deputy Director at Griffith University Islamic Research Unit; author of Islam and the Australian News Media

Stephen Stockwell | Professor in Griffith University School of Humanities; Co-author of The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy

Barney Zwartz | Author of “The Religious Write” column in The Age

Scott Stephens | Religion and Ethics Editor for ABC Online

Sarah Pulliam Bailey | National correspondent, Religion News Service, Former managing editor of Odyssey Networks, and online editor for Christianity Today

Dr.Navras Aafreedi | Assistant Professor Gautam Buddha University, Muslim-Jewish Relations Activist

Arne Fjelstad | CEO of the Media Project

Florence Spurling | Encounter, ABC Radio National

Ursula Skjonnemand | Citizen J Project and State Library Queensland

Andrew West | Religion and Ethics Report, ABC Radio National

John Cleary | Sunday Nights with John Cleary on ABC Radio



Griffith University’s South Bank campus (PDF 338k) is located across the river from Brisbane’s central business district (CBD).  There are many hotels in the South Bank area.  Hotels can be found using services such as and

Alternatively, delegates may choose to stay near the Multi-Faith Centre on Griffith's Nathan Campus and commute to South Bank for the Symposium.  There are several hotels near campus, including Comfort Inn & Suites Robertson Gardens (Nathan) and Travelodge Garden City (Upper Mt Gravatt).


Nathan is just a 10-minute drive from South Bank, 15-minute drive from Brisbane CBD and a 30-minutes drive from Brisbane Airport. South Bank is easily accessible by train, bus and ferry. We encourage delegates to use public transportation during peak traffic hours. Please consult TransLink for route and fare information.

Contact us

For more information, please contact Multi-Faith Centre (now Centre for Interfaith & Cultural Dialogue)