Meet Our Regional Representatives: Elisa Di Benedetto

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The board of the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) has named Regional Representatives to encourage more regional collaboration among our members. This is the third of a series of profiles of these leading journalists …

Elisa is one of the founding members of the IARJ, so she carries the history of our collective experiences with her as she pursues her work with new members, updating our website, coordinating conferences and sending out newsletters. In this photo, she’s on Lake Como.In 2012, the IARJ was born from a global gathering of journalists in a retreat center situated along the shores of that lake.

ELISA DI BENEDETTO is our IARJ Regional Representative for Europe. She also has become one of the best-known members of our IARJ core team—because she is our Co-Managing Director and Web Editor. She has been involved in all of our international conferences. New members interact with her online.

In addition to her work with the IARJ, her Twitter home page describes her as a “freelance journalist covering religion and migration based in Italy.” Her Linked-in profile adds: “Over the past decade, I have covered a variety of topics, including cross-cultural and cross-religious issues, migration to Italy, civil-military cooperation and gender issues. My areas of focus include the migration and religion, the role of media in the peacekeeping process. I reported from Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kosovo.” (You can also visit her on Facebook.)

‘Not Just Black and White’

In January 2019, Elisa’s Foreword about the global challenge of racial and ethnic diversity helped to launch an important new book by American scholar Dr. Anni K. Reinking, Not Just Black and White. While Reinking’s work is primarily related to the U.S. and Africa, Elisa wrote in her Foreword about the importance of solid journalism in telling emerging stories worldwide. Elisa wrote, in part:

As a journalist based in Italy, my vocation over many years has taken me to hot spots where the movement of peoples is sparking change and sometimes conflict. I have reported on these challenges. I have worked with countless men and women trying to make new lives in new countries. This is not a distant story for anyone in today’s world …

As a journalist, I have circled the globe reporting the big stories about these movements. Wherever I go, I know that the final story I write must be told through the lives of individual men, women and children. That’s what connect us all as peole. That’s what begins to break down barriers. That’s where we begin to realize that we ultimately share far more as humans than any separation we might perceive from color or creed or customs.

‘My Contribution …’

Elisa taking part in the Brazil conference.

In preparing this profile, we asked Elisa: How would you describe your unique contribution to the IARJ?

“My contribution began with that early contact from David Briggs who was organizing the first conference in Bellagio,” she said. “The moment I heard David describe the idea for this new organization, I
was very excited at the idea of working with journalists from all over the world who share the same values and goals in the work that we do.”

So, she said, “my greatest contribution is that I’ve been here since the beginning and know what we discussed as founders—I understand the vision of what we can become.”

Then, “over the years, as we have moved around the world and expanded our network of colleagues, we have had a chance to talk, to share ideas and to help shape the best work we can do in reporting on religion and diversity. This is such important work in our world today because we see so many places where old prejudices are arising once again. I am very pleased to be part of the IARJ and to look ahead to what we all can do in the future.”

Learn more about Elisa’s work …

The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) featured Elisa’s work in its Global Plus series: Immigration and the changing religious landscape of Europe

Care to read some of her articles in Italian? Here are some of her earlier stories for the online magazine, Ghigliottina.