Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue
On September 29 and 30, 2009, The Paley Center for Media hosted a Media Council Dialogue, titled Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue, at our New York City headquarters.
•Download PDF Report: Media and the Muslim World
•Click here for a list of resources and tools
Held in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, this Dialogue explored how to improve the depth and quality of the US news media’s coverage of Muslim cultures, both here and abroad. After in-depth consideration of the successes and failures of news coverage on this front, we set out to reach a straightforward goal. We sought to illuminate new approaches and resources that can help journalists and news executives overcome challenges to providing comprehensive and accurate information on Islam and Muslims to the American public—information that is vital for meaningful and productive public discourse on major foreign and domestic policy issues.
The program began with a keynote session with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on the evening of September 29, before an invited audience of approximately 160 guests. The following morning, senior members of the news industry and experts on the Muslim world, selected for their variety of perspectives, convened for discussion. Garrick Utley, president of The Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce at the State University of New York, served as moderator for the discussion. The following is a summary of Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue.
Download the complete report of Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue. We consider this report to be a living document. As such, we would like your input in improving it as an ongoing reference for the journalism community. If you would like to contribute your thoughts, new resources and tools, or editorial input, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Pew Research Center, fifty-eight percent of Americans say they know little or nothing about Islam’s practices, and thirty-five percent say they have a negative opinion of Muslims—opinions that respondents say are largely shaped by the news media. Where do these negative perceptions come from? Does the media’s tendency to focus on adversity and conflict contribute to these attitudes? What can the news media do to provide a fuller, more informed, and more normalized view of Muslim issues? These questions formed the backdrop for Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue. The Dialogue had a number of goals. Our first was to frankly consider these issues with newsroom leaders representing a broad cross section of American journalism. The second was to bring new tools and resources to bear on the challenges facing all journalists striving to improve coverage of the Muslim world in the United States. And the third was to create first-person connections between Muslim community representatives and journalists, as a way to personalize relationships that would lead to richer coverage of the Muslim world.
• GlobalPost is an Internet journalism site devoted exclusively to international news and related content. Its mission is to provide Americans and all English-language readers around the world, with a depth, breadth, and quality of original international reporting that has been steadily diminished in too many American newspapers and television networks. And they are actively seeking partners, having already made agreements to provide their coverage to outlets including CBS News, the New York Daily News, and Worldfocus among many others.
• PulseWire, founded by Jensine Larsen, is a media enterprise covering global issues through the eyes of women. They are dedicated to listening to and broadcasting the unheard voices and innovative solutions of women worldwide. They produce World Pulse Magazine as well as PulseWire, an interactive community newswire where women can speak for themselves to the world and connect to solve global problems.
Notable Online Research Tools
The next challenge discussed by participants was the glut of online information and resources—making it difficult to find quality tools. A number of journalists and bloggers provide first-rate online information and analysis of the Muslim world, including participants Genieve Abdo, Marc Lynch, and Steven Waldman. The following is a sample of some of the most successful sites for research and analysis.
• Global Expert Finder is a free online resource of opinion leaders who provide quick reactions and accurate analysis to journalists worldwide on complex political, social and religious issues and crises.
• Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, founded by Daisy Khan, is an organization of more than 300 Muslims around the world who are media trained and ready to speak about the issues relating to Muslims across the board—from religion, to security, to business. The MLTs provide what they call an ‘opposition voice’ to extremists. Khan offered to assist journalists who are seeking experts, commentators, or just everyday people, for their stories.
Research Sources from Participants
A preconference survey and discussion during our conference generated a list of online resources that our participants were already using. We include that list here, on the assumption that our experts in the field have combed research material and esteem these sites as valuable sources of information.
The following are the resources cited by at least one participant.
Abu Muqawama blog: A blog which says it is dedicated to following issues related to contemporary insurgencies as well as counterinsurgency tactics and strategy.
Afpax Insider: A news site describing itself as, "Your one stop Af-Pak info sources."
Ahmed Rashid: The blog of Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the book, Descent Into Chaos.
Al-Hayat: One of the leading daily pan-Arab newspapers.
Al-Jazeera: The English language Web site of the television news network.
Angry Arab: The blog of As'ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley.
The Arabist: The Arabist says it is dedicated to covering the politics and culture of the Arab world. It is published in Cairo.
Asharq al-Awsat: Asharq Al-Awsat calls itself "the world's premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously on four continents in twelve cities."
Daily Star Beirut: The Daily Star is the on-line edition of the Lebanese newspaper and calls itself, "the Web's leading source of Lebanese and regional news."
Iraq Oil Report: Iraq Oil Report claims it is the world leader in providing business, political, and security news and analysis on Iraq.
Jakarta Post: The online home of the Indonesian newspaper.
Long War Journal: The Long War Journal says it is "dedicated to providing original and accurate reporting and analysis of the Long War (also known as the Global War on Terror)."
Al-Masry al-Youm:The online, English language home of the Egyptian newspaper.
MERIP: The Middle East Research and Information Project and the Middle East Report Online
Mideastwire.com:Mideastwire.com offers a daily email newsletter of concise, translated briefs covering some of the key pieces appearing in the media of the twenty-two Arab countries, Iran, and the Arab Diaspora.
The Mideast Mirror: An online publication devoted to fostering a deeper understanding of the Middle East and to promoting constructive dialogue about the region and its relationship with the United States.
The National (Dubai): The online edition of the The National newspaper from the UAE.
Tehranbureau.com: An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian Diaspora, Tehran Bureau is a "virtual" news bureau.
Final Note and the Way Forward
Please read the entire report of the conference, which contains a more detailed description of the events as well as further information about resources and tools to improve coverage of the Muslim world. Download the entire report.
While we hope that the information developed in Media and the Muslim World: Enriching the American Dialogue will serve journalists in many ways, we also believe it is only the beginning of the discussion. We do not want this to serve as a snapshot in time, rather, we want it to be an organic effort that will grow as more resources and tools are developed and discovered. Please share your thoughts with us, and keep us apprised of any developments of which we should be aware. To reach us, send an email to email@example.com.