NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — Concerned with the societal challenges that have become ever more apparent during the pandemic, an increasing number of journalists in Kazakhstan are asking searching questions about how the media can contribute to social progress.
In response to this growing interest, the Bahá’í Office of External Affairs of that country has been bringing together journalists for profound discussions on the ethical and moral dimensions of journalism within the broader context of creating a more cohesive society.
“How do we see our society? If we want to see it unified, then let us envision media’s role as a constructive force with the ability to contribute to unity,” says Lyazzat Yangaliyeva, the Director of the Bahá’í Office of External Affairs.
She added: “Journalists can contribute greatly to the transformation of society, but a new conception of human nature is needed—one that sees the nobility of every human being.”
Participants at the gathering examined how a tendency to overlook or dismiss the spiritual nature of human beings can lead to the commonly held view that people favor sensationalism over accuracy, a view that places responsibility for what is published on audiences rather than producers.
Ilyas Nugumanov, a blogger, challenged this view, speaking about the need for reporting that is grounded in moral principles: “In my experience, many people are drawn to posts that are based on unifying ideas and are more responsive to them than to divisive or emotive stories.
“People are attracted to stories that inspire them to rise above their differences and to love one another.”
Attendees also noted that questions about human nature are bound up with spiritual principles that guide journalists in their own personal lives.
“To be a journalist requires constant work on oneself, to be more ethical, to be kinder, to combat prejudice, and to be more respectful toward the people and issues we are covering,” said Danel Khojaeva, editor of the media publication The Steppe.
“This is a question of our common humanity,” she continued, “Being a better journalist is simply to be a better human being.”
The Office of External Affairs has been producing podcast episodes of these discussions, which can be found in the Russian language on this YouTube channel.