Equality and Tolerance Reporting Taboo

In many countries, there are topics that news media rarely, if ever, report on. And yet these issues can affect millions of people - including the most vulnerable people. Such issues need to be covered in an accurate, impartial manner, which includes the views of all parties involved. The Thomson Reuters Foundation provides training, mentoring and editorial support to assist journalists who are covering stories at the margins of our societies. 


Taboo issues vary from one society to another - but no country is free of them. From abortion and menstruation to mental health and child abuse in sport, when these subjects are not discussed openly and fairly people suffer. However, opening up discussion on an unspoken subject is one of the most challenging things a journalist can do. It could even present dangers. This programme aims to support journalists to do this in the most professional, safe and engaging way possible. 

Journalists typically take part in this programme with a pre-existing story idea. We run workshops to help them develop these stories and explore the opportunities and risks inherent in reporting them. We then provide ongoing editorial support - and sometimes modest funding - to help them produce these stories to a high standard. Where needed, we link them to international media outlets so they can pitch their stories there - particularly important when publication or broadcast in a domestic outlet is difficult. 

Top Highlights

There are a number of examples of output from this programme. 

In 2016, Malva Izquierdo from Nicaragua produced a report on how women in rural areas of her country are frequently locked out of land ownership by their fathers and husbands in a practice that was supposed to end decades ago. She spoke to one woman who said of her husband: "He told me if you leave, forget about the land. He hits me and cheats on me. I do not want to leave because we got the land together, it is mine too, but it is in his name." This story was distributed via the Reuters wire, reaching a global audience. 

Also in 2016, Baboki Kayawe from Botswana produced a story on gender variance and interviewed an intersex athlete. Her piece was published in Mmegi, one of the major newspapers in Botswana. Baboki later said, "I think the article was an eye-opener for the media to realise the gap in reporting on gender variant persons." 

About Media Development

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is committed to fostering the highest standards of journalism worldwide. We believe accurate, impartial and independent journalism leads to better-informed societies. It holds power to account, strengthens the rule of law and contributes to economic and social development.

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