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Muslims feel media reports involving them 'selective, biased, stereotypical, inaccurate'

By Moin Qazi*
The Covid-19 pandemic has put the medical doctors through one of the most gruelling tests of all time. They are on the frontlines of the battle to save human lives and are putting a truly brave show. Yet away from the battle lines, in the comfort confines, is another tribe of doctors that is engaged in an unusual combat. These are the communal doctors who are devising new medicines and tools for breeding the hate propaganda.
Leading them on the frontlines are some journalists who see in this pandemic a more incendiary fuel to stoke the communal agenda. The media has for long been engaged in a toxic propaganda against Muslims and this new calamity has led to a more lethal mutation of the communal virus.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been so many instances of omissions on part of many groups, including governments and international bodies. It was quite understandable because we were not equipped to foresee the course of the trajectory. But the role of some journalists in pinning the blame on a particular community and assigning conspiracy labels to it only shows a deliberate bias. The hallmark of any great media is that , it always considers facts as sacred.
The damage to health, wealth, and well-being has already been enormous. This is like a world war, except in this case, we’re all on the same side. Hence instead of pitting one section of humanity against another we should make it a combined united fight.
There is a cottage industry of authors who keep the midnight oil burning to ensure that the flashlights on bad Muslims keep beaming. These are churned out by a well-oiled Islamophobia machine with financial backers, think-tanks, and misinformation experts who are constantly manipulating the already flawed image of what a Muslim is, of what Islam is. They are attacking the identity of Muslims, which is so diverse that it cannot possibly fit into a box.
They have not only ratcheted their anti-Muslim rhetoric but also made it more strident. In fact, the entire discourse is being orchestrated on predefined lines. To put it in the words of Jim Morrison, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind”.
In an ideal world, journalism is a profession of incredible integrity and journalists are among the most dexterous and skilled people in the world. We have all benefited from the work of persistent journalists who put life, limb, family and even sanity on the line in their pursuit of truth. There is no sane, decent, and democratic polity possible without journalists who challenge power, relentlessly pursue and disseminate the truth and always find the next story to tell.
The press once seemed to have a conscience, thanks to history’s painful social conflicts and questions of war and peace. The world, however, has changed, and many of us may be in the time warp of old values. Like all institutions, the media has also suffered in terms of its reputation.
Mark Twain once said: “Stupid people – who constitute the overwhelming majority of this and all other nations – believe and are convinced by what they get out of a newspaper, and there is where the harm lies.”
The crucial point is credibility. For the media to be credible it has to take responsibility for getting its facts right. That means digging deep, talking to a range of people to get the different sides of the story, and checking their facts rigorously. It should not hesitate to root out and expose lies, hypocrisy and corruption, but has to be sure of its facts before doing so.
There is widespread agreement among Muslims that media reports involving them are selective, biased, stereotypical and inaccurate.
If you want to know how many times Muslims have themselves condemned violence and extremism, you just have to Google with common phrases associated with Islamic extremism and you will be surprised by the thousands of Muslims, their institutions, scholars, leaders, priests and governments that are condemning and fighting violence, hatred and terrorism while assuring everyone that this does not have anything to do with the peaceful message of Islam.
It is only the voices of extremism that are being microphoned and the saner voices of liberalism and pluralism are totally obscured giving a very distorted slant to the whole discourse.
In the context of growing media attention given to Islam and Muslims, there is a critical issue with the role that the media plays in reinforcing certain negative stereotypical images of the community. There is widespread agreement among Muslims that media reports involving them are selective, biased, stereotypical and inaccurate.
Voices of extremism are being microphoned, but saner voices of liberalism and pluralism are obscured giving a distorted slant to discourse
Majority of Muslims are moderate, peaceful people who have infact been more affected by terrorism and violence than non-Muslims. But the media is not interested in this positive news. It has constructed its own stereotype of a Muslim and uses selective stories to reinforce this stereotype. So what is the purpose of the mainstream media if they are not going to fulfil their mission of informing the public? Money.
The collective media is a multibillion-dollar monolith. It is an industry that is managed by industry barons who want to promote their own ideology and feed on firing information at the viewer at a machinegun pace, and when that happens, a lot of context is lost. Many of the people who work in media have no clue how to tell a story at street level and when it is a story about Islamic issues, they are even more clueless.
The press follows a familiar narrative everywhere. Muslims are extremists, intolerant and their scriptures promote violence. The distorted images of Islam stem partly from a lack of understanding of Islam by non-Muslims and partly from the failure by Muslims to explain themselves. The results are predictable -- hatred feeds on hatred. The ignorance of Islam exists both among Muslims and non-Muslims. Non-Muslims, ignorant and misunderstanding Islam, fear it. They believe it threatens their most basic values.
Fantasy, conjecture and stereotypes replace fact and reality. Similarly, Muslims have their own misconceptions. Reacting to the hate and fear of non-Muslims, they create a kind of defensive posture within their societies and a combative environment built on militant rhetoric. In this heat and misunderstanding, the voices of peace and tolerance are drowned out. We need sanity in all quarters to let the truth prevail.
The media can play a very critical role in our goal of achieving this objective. The reality is that religious leaders and dialogue practitioners may not be equipped to properly understand and analyse news sources or reach out meaningfully to the media. They may not be aware of the process of the newsroom agenda setting and may not recognize that journalists do not usually set the news agenda.
Religious leaders and dialogue practitioners could benefit from training on how to represent themselves better to the press and online. They should not allow their messages of peace and reconciliation, or the fact they represent the majority of people of faith, to be overshadowed by media savvy religious voices that deal in conflict and hatred. There is the possibility that in the heat of debate objectivity gets diluted. It is necessary that both faith leaders and journalists appreciate and understand each other's constraints.
News media relies on sales for survival because their sales figures determine both their subscription and advertising revenues. What sells is hard-hitting news about dramatic, action-packed and emotionally charged events. As the saying goes: 'If it bleeds, it leads.' That does not mean that audiences do not react positively to in-depth features and profiles, but traditionally headlines are driven by hard news, including political, military and economic developments. This can make it challenging to find a prominent space for nuance.
There are scholars who devote their entire careers to understanding even a single religious sub-tradition. There are different doctrines, beliefs, modes of dress and practices, institutional structures, leaders, alliances and disputes among individuals or communities that are opaque from the outside. Different communities within the same religion may have different interpretations of history and doctrine.
For news media, training reporters so they can depict and report knowledgeably on religious communities may seem prohibitively time consuming, expensive or difficult. These are the cold, hard facts of day-to-day media operations. For their part, Muslim leaders can play a very meaningful role in sensitizing the media to the various complexities that Islamic issues have. Broader dialogue can help in a nuanced understanding of the whole issue.
Journalists need to rededicate themselves to the original mission which made journalism a noble calling of so many great men. It is their commitment to the values of liberty and freedom that earned the press the status of the Fourth Estate alongside the other three custodians of free speech and democracy.
It is time journalists reaffirmed their commitment to the credo of Joseph Pulitzer III (1913-1993), the founder of the world’s gold standard in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize: 'We will illuminate dark places and, with a deep sense of responsibility, interpret these troubled times.'
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*Development expert

Comments

truthaboutislam said…
Islam, one among largest religions in the world also the one that is misunderstood all time. There are several sources including political, economic & media, framed Islam as misleading religion. And the truth about muslims are always hidden from the light.
SAMIR SARDANA said…
The Indian Media is used by Modi to hound Muslims and keep them in intellectual ghettos and perpetual stereotypes, based on a strategem of repetitive lynching.

Y gthe Anti – Muslim, Tone of the Indian Hindoo Media ?

1st the public,has to get some basic concepts clear

The media owners = Banias,and in a few cases,Brahmin
The media editors = Brahmin ,and in some cases,Banias
The media lawyers = Brahmin,Punjabi banias …
The Politicians = All Right Wing Hindoos (In North India)

Who are these people,and the raucous heathens and menials,which comprise the audience of the TV media,and the regional language print newspapers. These are the offspring of the rapes of women by the Sakas,Scythians,Mughals, Afghans, Turks,Mongols etc.It is said that Rajput harlots poured kerosene on their vaginas,before they committed suicide.The debauched history,of the hindoo cowards,is haunting the Hindoo – after 2000 years.

What are the Indian Muslims ? They are converts from the lower castes.If the Mughals and Turks,had not ruled the Hindoos,these lower castes – would have been destroyed.Islam redeemed the Dalits and lower castes.However, the DNA is that of a Hindoo Dalit,still – and that is Y,West Asians mock Indian Muslims,and call them “Hindoos” – even in Mecca ! Many West Asians,do not even consider Indian Muslims,to be Muslims – because they have STILL NOT REVOLTED AGAINST INJUSTICE and have still NOT understood the MODI GAME PLAN and the fact that the Indian Muslims have NO FUTURE in India.

The deep reservoir of Hindoo shame,has been converted into Muslim hate,by the Politicians – as that is the core of the Hindoo DNA.If there were no Muslims – the Hindoos would target the Dalits.It is the evolution of shame and humiliation,into HATE and VITRIOL – which is a tried and tested formula,in several nations.The media acts as a tool,for the “accentuation and catalysis” of the anti-muslim agenda,by distorting and hyping incidents, WHICH ARE CREATED AND NURTURED BY THE IB,NIA AND THE POLITICIANS (as a part of a conscious strategy of assymetric war,on the Indian Muslims and a perpetuation of, a monotony of propoganda)

The formula of the politician,is simple – to create an issue each week of the year, in order to bring diffident and marginal hindoos,into the right wing hindoo cult – and let the opposition splinter the Muslim vote,into different parties.The Fact is that 90 % of the Hindoos,do not care for NRC/CAA,and also,believe that the Tabligh,is a Corona Bomb.That fact (which is the “Core DNA” of the Hindoo), and the media lynching,have fed on each other.

Incidentally,the rabid competitive lynching by the media houses – pushes up the TRPs,to the stratosphere – which gets in the corporate advertisements, and which are then,followed by a political audit (by the politician) – who then,loosens the purse strings,of the state ad blitz,through the preferred media houses – akin to bones,thrown at the dogs,in a manger.

To add the spice,each TV channel has a posse of rented and dubious Muslims and Nassara – who are not regarded as Muslims,by Islam,and also,deriied by Mecca and Rome.These limpets are used to provoke Sunni Islam (to perpetuate the Hindoo Myths about Islam and Muslims),and make it appear to Hindoo heathens and menials,that there are fissures in Islam – and that,there are some Indian Muslims,fighting the ogres of Islamic Orthodoxy – like Salman Rushdie ! Most Hindoos believe that Shias,Ismailis,Bohris are a “Caste”, within Islam – just like the Hindoos – same same ! dindooohindoo

The Indian Media are SERVILE slaves of Narendra Modi ! They live off the Goebbelsian Propoganda of Modi and his band of crazed loons ! They TROIKA of the Indian Media,Modi and the Indian Media – deserve each other ! It is the everlasting embrace of 3 corpses at he bottom of the Arctic !

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