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  A Step for Peace  
 

 

Not a day passes without a news story on Mindanao in the front pages or prime time news of Philippine media. The stories range from in-depth analysis to absurd stories. Mindanao is a favorite topic among journalists because Mindanao stories have all the elements that make a good headline, i.e., conflict and drama.

Writing about Mindanao can be news by itself. A recent study by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) concluded that the Philippine print news media exhibited manifest and latent biases against Muslim Filipinos.  Manifest biases were demonstrated through stereotyping, labeling or “terrorist tagging;” inaccurate and imbalance reporting, and negative reporting.  Latent biases were indicated by the lack or absence of coverage on Muslim affairs, “context avoidance,” and the lack of a Moro perspectives.

 
 


Among the reasons for inadequate and even inaccurate reporting is that many journalists who write about Mindanao know very little about its history, arts and culture, religion, political setup, etc. Many stories lack not only content but context as well. Some consider themselves Mindanao “experts” but have not even sniffed the air of Mindanao.

To address this gap, the AIJC has launched this website on Muslim Mindanao. It is not only for journalists but for all other communicators who are genuinely interested to promote peace and development in Mindanao – advertisers with their compelling marketing messages, film producers and directors who produce tele-dramas and action flicks, etc.

The website aims to provide background materials that will enable journalists and other communicators to provide the proper historical, socio-cultural and political contexts. Significant historical documents, such as the Treaty of Paris, 1976 Tripoli Agreement, 1996 GRF-MNLF Peace Agreement and related photos shall be found in its virtual pages.

Through a directory of experts, it will facilitate media access to resource persons from Mindanao on such topics as the peace process, Shari’a justice, ancestral domain, and madrasah, among others. Hopefully, the voices of Mindanao will no longer be muted but heard and shared.

This website demonstrates and encourages inter-faith dialogue and cross-cultural communication.  The advisory and editorial teams are composed of Muslim and Christian Filipinos committed to shared values of peace, justice, and solidarity. The views and comments from various cultures and religions will be given space. Journalists and other communicators will have access to diverse perspectives which they have to evaluate, validate, synthesize, organize and, very important, popularize.

The website recognizes every individual’s right to information. The editorial team shall endeavor to gather, present and popularize (if necessary) all information that will enable everyone to make informed choices, decisions and actions. We recognize that adequate and timely information can be our best defense against our own prejudices and biases.

For more than a decade now, the AIJC has initiated programs and projects which aim to promote Muslim-Christian harmony. It coordinated the pioneering research on Muslim-Christian Commonalities (also published into a book); conducted research, produced information materials and prepared an advocacy plan on the Shari’a courts; examined news media’s coverage of Mindanao; and completed a content analysis of eight Filipino movies which featured Muslim themes and characters – from Zamboanga (1936) and Badjao (1957) to Bagong Buwan (2001) and Operation Balikatan (2003).

For this website, the AIJC acknowledges the support of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM) and UNESCO.

We envision an interactive and participative website. Thus, we invite our “visitors” to send feedback and share articles, photos, videos and other materials.

 
 
 
 
 
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  Copyright 2011 Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication