12 March 2008

representation of islam in american media

managing editor of the washington post, Philip Bennet, gave a lecture titled "covering islam: a challenge for american journalism" at the university of california, irvine on march 3.

"The United States news media has failed to produce sustained coverage of Islam to challenge the easy assumptions, gross generalizations or untested rhetoric that shape perceptions of Muslims."

with regard to Middle East coverage, Bennett says the media "fails to demonstrate a critical understanding of the region’s history, culture and context." (this can be said of many regions and many media).

one of Bennett's solutions to this failure is to bring in more muslim journalists. hmm, i can see this going down well with the more conservative sector of the american population.

i agree with the principle, but i don't think that by simply having more muslim journalists, the issue of representation is solved. more importantly, as he noted himself, "coverage of Islam is always dominated by political and military conflict and for all sides 'the media is a part of the battle space'." all media has its own ideology and political stance; this will inevitably affect its portrayal of anything, including islam. in that case, it is not the journalists but the editors and managing boards that would need to be muslim.

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