INDEPENDENT NEWS WEB SITES’ COVERAGE OF RELIGION IN CENTRAL ASIA
Eric FREEDMAN, Maureen WALTON
Eric Freedman, Assistant Professor of Journalism, Michigan State University School of Journalism (East Lansing, U.S.)
Maureen Walton, A Journalism graduate of Michigan State University; is now associated with Sorenson Communications (Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.)
The five Central Asian governments tightly control religious freedom and practices. Most mass media remains state-owned or tightly controlled, and journalists exercise self-censorship, with or without official censorship. One result is a dearth of reporting by domestic media about religious freedom issues, which are culturally and politically sensitive for these authoritarian regimes. Western-based Web news sites like those of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (www.iwpr.net), Eurasianet (www.eurasianet.org), and IRIN News (www.irinnews.org) provide alternative venues for independent reporting on news about religion, but access to these sites is difficult or impossible for most people. Central Asian journalists who report for these sites confront challenges and risks.
The Religion Setting
Religion in Central Asia is inextricably interwoven with politics. All five governments are secular in orientation and practice, although some leaders wrap themselves in religious mantles for………………….