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6th ASEF Journalists' Colloquium: Interfaith Reporting in the Advent of New Media: Exercising Rights and Responsibilities

Held In Conjunction With The 4th ASEM Interfaith Dialogue

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
01 Jun 08 - 02 Jun 08 Asia-Europe Foundation Communications Department ASEF Journalists' Seminar Intercommunal Dialogue

Amsterdam (The Netherlands)


For the 6th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium, 14 editors, columnists, and journalists from media organisations in Asia and Europe attended the informal, closed-door meeting.

The two-day Colloquium was held in three sessions. The first session kicked off with three presentations which incited initial debate on the subjects of freedom of expression, the media’s role in conflict resolutions, and interfaith dialogue in Asia and Europe. The second session surveyed developments and trends in recent interfaith relations in the globalised digital world. A presentation on blogging and search engines was also delivered, stimulating an in-depth discussion on the impact of new media in shaping the modern and future society. The Colloquium concluded with a final session in the afternoon where various recommendations to the ASEM Interfaith Dialogue were distilled.

During the discussion, participants agreed on the basic assumption that there are some universal journalistic standards which should be promoted. It was also agreed that it is important to try to make journalists as knowledgeable as possible on what they report about. A problem is that journalists often are under tremendous pressure when they have to report an issue. Another concern was that journalists are becoming too dependent on the Internet or other “second-hand research” instead of making the person-to-person contact which provides the best tool for correct and precise reporting.

Participants also agreed that a basic problem for organisations – religious as well as non-religious – was the ability to react in time. The media works fast in a changing world, and an important observation was that religious leaders should be much more visible in the public space when problems connected to religion arise. They should also pay more attention to the Internet, where much of today’s communication takes place.

The Colloquium was graced by the presence of Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, who shared his experience in managing the city’s interfaith harmony in the backdrop of violent incidents in the past.

The summary of discussions as well as 14 recommendations from the Colloquium were presented at the 4th Interfaith Dialogue's Working Group 3. The recommendations were subsequently taken up by members of the Working Group who encouraged their implementation, as reflected in group's Amsterdam Statement of Interfaith Dialogue.


Jan Lund, Editor, Asia Adviser, Singapore.


  • European Journalism Centre
ASEF's contribution is with the financial support of the European Commission.