African Journalists update Taboom Reporting Resolution on Covering Sexual and Gender Minorities & Religion

Bella Carl Taboom Oct 2019

In October 2019, Taboom Media hosted its third week-long workshop on covering LGBTQI+ issues and religion. The Cape Town workshop brought together 25 journalists and regional trainers from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

This training was made possible through generous support from the Arcus Foundation, Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern Africa, and European Journalism Centre.

Below you can read Taboom Media’s Reporting Resolution on Covering Sexual and Gender Minorities & Religion in Sub-Saharan Africa, which our journalists updated on the final day of training. This resolution is a living document that was first drafted during our regional workshop in 2016. It has continued to evolve at regional and country-specific workshops in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

Taboom Media
Covering Sexual and Gender Minorities & Religion in Sub-Saharan Africa
October 4 – 8, 2019
Cape Town, South Africa

As journalists from across Sub-Saharan Africa, we adhere to our profession’s principles of honesty, fairness, accuracy, transparency, sensitivity and thoroughness. When reporting and editing on sexual and gender minorities & religion, we resolve to:

  1. Develop our knowledge of SSOGIE (Sex, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) issues and different belief systems.
  2. Avoid mentioning SSOGIE status or faith affiliation when such information is not directly relevant to a story.
  3. Carefully consider word choice and framing around sexual and gender minorities and followers of different faiths. Use sources’ preferred terminology when appropriate.
  4. Allow marginalized and underrepresented people to speak for themselves and in their own voices.
  5. Strive to include moderate voices in our reporting, not just the extremes.
  6. Seek out knowledgeable sources capable of providing accurate information and analysis.
  7. Always consider the motivations and potential biases of our sources.
  8. Be especially diligent in verifying all details when covering sensitive news and ask for clarification when needed.
  9. Avoid including dangerous hate speech in our stories.
  10. Avoid sensationalizing or capitalizing on marginalized identities.
  11. Avoid using imagery that depicts religious or sexual and gender minorities in stereotypical or dehumanizing ways.
  12. Take all measures possible to protect the safety and security of sources, subjects, communities, and ourselves. This may include anonymizing sources.
  13. Practice the qualities of responsible, ethical journalism by minimizing harm and interrogating hearsay and rumor.
  14. Encourage diversity in our newsrooms and educate our colleagues.
  15. Ensure that our personal beliefs and biases do not influence the accuracy of our reporting or limit the topics we cover. If our beliefs somehow jeopardize our ability to fairly cover a story, we should pass it onto a colleague.