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Senior Journalists Seminar

Launched in 2003, the Senior Journalists Seminar is a 21-day professional dialogue, study and travel program intended to enhance media coverage and elevate the public debate regarding religion and its role in the public sphere, specifically as it regards US-Muslim relations. Designed for senior print, radio, broadcast and online journalists from the US and Asian countries with substantial Muslim populations, the Senior Journalists Seminar offers an opportunity for participating journalists to engage their peers, experts and the public on issues relevant to US-Muslim relations including religiosity and religious diversity in the United States and Asia; the political, economic and cultural role religion plays in societies; initiatives to reduce religious tensions and domestic extremism; and the impact of the media's coverage of religion on diplomacy and US-Muslim relations. It is a signature program at the EWC due to its demonstrated outcomes:

  • A deeper understanding of US-Muslim relations gained by participating journalists through discussions at the EWC and during study-tour meetings with government, military and business officials; religious leaders; academics; journalists; authors; artists; filmmakers; educators and students; and community activists.
  • Increased public awareness of religion and the political, economic and cultural force religion plays in societies as a result of interactive dialogue with and outreach to local communities via panel discussions, student forums, observance of religious services and interaction with diverse religious communities, host family dinners, and receptions.
  • Development of reliable professional and personal information networks upon which participants can draw for future coverage and analysis of US-Muslim relations.
  • Sustained depth and balance to future media coverage of religion, specifically involving US-Muslim relations.

2014 Senior Journalists Seminar

Theme:  Bridging Gaps between the United States and the Muslim World 

The 2014 Senior Journalists Seminar (SJS) will bring together American and Asian journalists for a 21-day professional dialogue, study and travel program to Washington, DC; Boston, Massachusetts; Honolulu, Hawaii; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Delhi, India. In order to dispel negative stereotypes and increase understanding, SJS is designed to maximize interaction among participants and the local communities to which they travel. SJS offers participating journalists opportunities to examine the complex religious, ethnic and economic diversity in the United States and Asia as well as how interfaith dialogue brings many different types of believers to the table. Journalists will meet with religious and interfaith-dialogue leaders, government officials, business executives, academics, community leaders and cultural experts to better understand the impact of religion on government policy, finance, education and culture. Journalists will also examine efforts to reduce religious tensions and combat violent domestic extremism. Finally, the role and responsibility of the media to accurately report on issues relevant to US-Muslim relations will also be explored. As SJS includes visits to churches, temples, mosques and Muslim centers as well as both high level government meetings and slum visits, it is important to note that the seminar is both mentally and physically challenging. Kindly consider this when applying. 

Dates:  August 20 - September 11, 2014

Study Destinations:  Washington, DC; Boston, Massachusetts; Honolulu, Hawaii; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Delhi, India

Who Can Apply:  Media professionals from print, broadcast and online news organizations, including reporters, writers, editors, producers, columnists, bloggers and editorial writers with a minimum of ten years of experience are eligible to apply. Participating journalists will include at least four American and six Asian journalists from countries with substantial Muslim populations, defined as: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. Participant-paid slots are also open for qualified journalists from countries NOT listed above. Successful candidates represent the diversity of religions (e.g. covered and non-covered Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Catholics and Christians), ethnicities and regional differences within the United States and the Asia Pacific. Preference is given to those journalists who specialize in topics related to the specific theme and who offer compelling story ideas. Fluency in English is required

The EWC requires participating journalists to file at least one story or a series of blogs and/or tweets resulting from their participation in the seminar. Journalists must offer specific story ideas and how you will fulfill this requirement in your application. 

Funding:  Roundtrip airfare for the study tour, lodging, ground transportation, program-related meals and a modest per diem are provided through funding by the East-West Center, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. All selected journalists are responsible for the Senior Journalists Seminar fee of USD$750.00, visa fees, health insurance and airline baggage charges. 

SJS funding is not available for citizens outside the United States and those Asian countries with substantial Muslim populations, but qualified journalists from other countries are highly encouraged to apply. Applicants from countries outside those listed above must pay a participant-paid fee of USD$9,075.00 in addition to the above costs, to be paid prior to the beginning of the seminar. The participant-paid fee covers the following costs for the 21-day Senior Journalists Seminar:         

  • Roundtrip airfare to and from your home city for purpose of the study tour
  • Ground transportation and airport transfers
  • Lodging in each of the study destinations
  • Provided program meals and a modest per diem
  • Interpretation in Indonesia
  • Pro-rated speaker honorarium and cooperating organization costs
  • Seminar DVD of program documents, speaker PowerPoint presentations and photos
  • Participant Resource Binder 

Congratulations to our 2014 Senior Journalists:

  • Mr. Khaldoun ABUKHATTAB, International News Editor, Alhayat Aljadida Newspaper, Albireh, Palestine
  • Mr. Zeyad Nihad AL ZUBAIDI, Senior Correspondent, Al Hurra Television, Baghdad, Iraq
  • Ms. Emillia AMIN, Senior Broadcast Journalist, Media Corp. Pte. Ltd., Singapore:
  • Ms. Emily BOBROW, U.S. Online Editor, The Economist, Washington, D.C., USA:
  • Mr. Saeed Kamali DEHGHAN, Foreign Reporter, The Guardian, London, England/Iran
  • Mr. Kevin ECKSTROM, Editor-in-Chief, Religion News Service, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Mr. Heru HENDRATMOKO, Editor-in-Chief, PortalKBR, Jakarta Timur, Indonesia
  • Mr. Vijay JOSHI, Assistant Asia Pacific Editor, Associated Press, Bangkok, Thailand/India
  • Mr. Jaweed KALEEM, Religion Reporter, The Huffington Post, New York City, NY, USA
  • Ms. Darshini KANDASAMY, Assistant News Editor, Malaysiakini, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Mr. Muhammad Yasir PIRZADA, Columnist/News Analyst, Daily Jang, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Ms. Ferdous SYEDA, Editor and Blog Facilitator, Somewhere In Blog, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Mr. Guy TAYLOR, National Security Reporter, The Washington Times, Washington, DC, USA

For more information on East-West Center journalism fellowships and exchanges, see

2011 Senior Journalists Seminar

The 2011 Senior Journalists Seminar began with a dialogue at the East-West Center, where participants presented key challenges and opportunities resulting from the interplay of religion and politics from the viewpoint of their own country. After the initial dialogue in Honolulu, the Asian journalists traveled to the U.S. mainland and the Americans traveled to Asia. The 2011 program, which took place from August 6 – 27, 2011, took five American journalists to Manila, Philippines; Mindanao, Philippines; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Meanwhile, six Asian journalists, together with one Iranian journalist, visited Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York; and Denver/Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Theme:  Bridging Gaps Between the United States and the Muslim World

Highlights of the 2011 U.S. program in Washington, DC included a session with Ernesto Uribe, East Asia & Pacific regional director of U.S. foreign assistance at the State Department, who explained how U.S. foreign assistance is prioritized, distributed and evaluated in the region as well as the usefulness of foreign assistance in preventing conflict and promoting democratic states. In addition, a roundtable session with active duty military personnel at the U.S. Pentagon humanized the U.S. military and provided the journalists with the opportunity to discuss ethics training and religious accommodation in the U.S. military. The group also benefited from a meeting with Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center, to analyze American voter perceptions of U.S. foreign policy and the Obama administration. Finally, the journalists deeply appreciated the opportunity to attend Sabbath service in Maryland followed by an informal discussion with Cantor Rachel Anne Hersh and to interact informally with members of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Temple.

In New York City, the Asian journalists examined efforts of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance through several sessions with religious and community leaders. For instance, the group met with Prepare New York, a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations that aim to promote healing and reconciliation in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The coalition was formed in part as a response to the national and international headlines surrounding last summer’s proposed Muslim Community Center in lower Manhattan. A session with Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, helped to provide the journalists with greater detail and understanding regarding the controversy. The journalists also explored how contemporary arts and media inform audiences about religion in a session with Just Vision, Inc., which seeks to inform local and international audiences through filmmaking about under-documented Palestinian and Israeli civilian efforts to resolve conflict. 

The Denver/Colorado Springs program further emphasized the religious and cultural diversity of the United States. For example, the group visited the U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel and the newly completed Cadat Chapel Falcon Circle. Additional highlights of the Colorado program included an opportunity to attend Sunday service at New Life Church, an Evangelical Christian church with over 7,000 parishioners, followed by a discussion with Paster Brady Boyd as well as a session with Gary Schneeberger, director of communications at Focus on the Family, regarding the role of religion in the public sphere. The journalists also benefited from a meeting with the FBI office in Denver where they examined U.S. efforts to combat extremism within our borders, specifically examining the Najibullah Zazi case. Finally, the journalists discussed the role of the media in informing and educating the public during a visit to the Denver Post.

The 2011 Asia program took the Americans to the Philippines during Bangsamoro peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Americans met with the Philippine government’s chief negotiator, Marvic M.V.F Leonen, to discuss the history of the Mindanao region and the complex divisions between religious and ethnic groups within the region. Mr. Leonen also discussed the Philippine government’s desire to see “convergence” of demands from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the MILF and the newly broken away group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). In Mindanao, the journalists met with the vice chair of political affairs, Ghadzali Jaafar, and the chairman of the MILF peace panel, Mohagher Iqbal, to explore rebel demands for a “substate” and the MILF’s ability and readiness to provide the government structures necessary to administer a “substate.” The journalists also met with Lt. General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to discuss military efforts aimed at combating terrorism and insurgency in Mindanao.

In addition to examining the on-going peace negotiations between the Philippine government and various Islamic groups in Mindanao, the Philippine program also provided ample opportunity for the journalists to examine linkages between religion and policymaking. For instance, in a session with the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Broderick S. Pabillo, on the role of the Catholic Church in the Philippines the journalists were told that the church promotes “social transformation” and is active in policy issues such as reproduction, land reform and education. A session with the founder of Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine-based poverty alleviation and nation-building movement driven by people of faith, highlighted community efforts to be inclusive and bring prosperity to the poorest poor. The journalists also benefited from an opportunity to tour a Gawad Kalinga housing community and meet with residents. Finally, the journalists visited a school built and operated by the Philippine Christian Foundation, which provides education, food, health care and skills training to families living on dump sites in the poorest slums of Manila, including Smokey Mountain, which the journalists toured.

The Dhaka, Bangladesh program took the American journalists to a Muslim majority country during the holy month of Ramadan and featured several sessions with high-level political leaders, including: Dupi Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Acting General Secretary of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party; and Abdur Razzaq, Assistant Secretary General of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh party. The journalists also met with the deputy director of the Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh and toured the national mosque, which has a capacity of 30,000, making it the 10th largest mosque in the world. In addition, the journalists toured a government-run madrassa and spoke with school administrators regarding the ciriculumn, class size and the education background of the teachers themselves. Finally, the journalists had a rare opportunity to experience and participate in Iftar following a session on Islamic banking and finance at the Islami Bank Bangladesh.

The 2011 Senior Journalists Seminar program finished by continuing the dialogue initiated at the East-West Center at Shangri-La in Honolulu. The journalists described their experiences, discussed the role of media in bridging gaps between the Islamic and non-Islamic worlds, and shared the new perspectives they will take home with them. It is during this second dialogue as well as in participants’ evaluations that we most see evidence of how the program has changed minds and attitudes.

The 2011 Asian Senior Journalists:

  • Mardiyah Chamim, Managing Editor, TEMPO News Weekly Magazine, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Bidhayak Das, Asia Correspondent, Eastern Chronicle, Guwahati, India
  • Parwiz, Kawa, Senior Political Editor, Hasht e Sobh Daily Newspaper, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Roozbeh MirEbrahimi, Editor-in-Chief, Iran dar Jahan Magazine, Brooklyn, New York, United States/Iran
  • Ana Marie Pamintuan, Executive Editor, The Philippine Star, Manila, Philippines
  • Muhammad Zahir Shah Sherazi, Bureau Chief, DawnNews, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and FATA, Pakistan
  • Kai Ping Yong, Chinese Editor,, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia          

The 2011 US Senior Journalists:

  • Ashley Hayes, News Desk Editor, The CNN Wire, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Howard LaFranchi, International Affairs Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor, Washington, DC, United States
  • Michael McGough, Senior Editorial Writer, Los Angeles Times, Washington Bureau, Washington, DC, United States
  • Sue McMillin, Local News Editor, Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
  • Jason Scanlon, Producer/Editor, FOX News Channel, Washington, DC, United States
Contact Information
Liz A. Dorn
Program Coordinator, Seminars
East-West Center
1601 East West Road
Honolulu, HI  96848  USA
Phone: (808) 944-7368
Fax: (808) 944-7600


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