CAIR-Chicago’s Communications Coordinator, Amina Sharif, recently spoke to journalism classes at Columbia College about media coverage of Muslims and how to report on culturally sensitive issues.
“In the past, journalists only studied writing,” Sharif explained. “In this age of globalization, journalists need to know how to research and accurately report on other cultures that they may not be familiar with.”
Sharif spoke to a Media Ethics class as well as an International Reporting class about misperceptions of Islam and how extreme images of Muslims in pop culture and mainstream media often feed into ignorance and intolerance.
Part of the discussion drew on a Fox News report about Muslim women in America, which the students viewed and then discussed. The students were encouraged to analyze the report, focusing on its issues with journalistic integrity, stereotyping, and exoticism. Sharif also presented part of a report she will soon be publishing on journalistic fallacies in news reports on Muslims, which will elaborate on her experience working with Fox News.
The students were also taught basic terminology one needs to know if reporting on issues pertaining to Muslims. For example, she explained the difference between the terms “Islam”, “Muslim” and “Arab.”
Feedback for the presentations was overwhelmingly positive. Students said the discussion was engaging and informative, and that the knowledge they gained will be invaluable in their future careers.