As practitioners of the world’s second-largest faith, Muslims account for 23% of our planet’s total population. That fact alone might prompt good journalists to better acquaint themselves with Islam, so as to more ethically report on the subject. What’s more, one can scarcely turn on a television or a smartphone without encountering a news story that involves key players who practice the religion. Yet when it comes to religion-heavy beats, the media have often been criticized for getting it wrong, and the frequency of this criticism seems to increase tenfold when we cover issues in or surrounding Islam.
These failures are not without consequence. Islamophobia arguably is one of the most widely accepted forms of bigotry in America and the harassment of Muslims remains a significant issue in many places (Columbia Journalism Review). Once again, reporters find themselves entrusted with the responsibility to ethically and accurately cover the ISIL conflict and numerous others without nurturing stereotypes and bigotry. It’s not always an easy challenge, but it’s one we must meet. We must maintain objectivity, accuracy and sensitivity by demonstrating greater cultural cognizance and a fuller understanding of Islam’s context. But where do we begin?
This Tuesday's twitterchat might be a good start. We are delighted to report that this #MuckedUp’s guest journalist is Murtaza Hussain, a reporter with First Look Media’s trailblazing investigative publication The Intercept. Hussain is a journalist with a focus on human rights, foreign policy, and cultural affairs whose bylines have been found in The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and numerous others. In a recent interview with CJR, Murtaza says journalists “have to report these things with care” rather than “in terms of a cultural clash or civilizational clash.” We look forward to what we can learn from him. Join us on Twitter this Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST for another unforgettable edition of #muckedup. Also, please feel free to help us spread the word with a tweet or two!