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Media and its Portrayal of Islam. Media and its Portrayal of Islam. By the age of 70, Americans will have spent 7-10 years of their lives watching TV. The media wields such great influence that it is essential to question the integrity of the media, and to explore the roots of its problems.

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media and its portrayal of islam1
Media and its Portrayal of Islam
  • By the age of 70, Americans will have spent 7-10 years of their lives watching TV.
  • The media wields such great influence that it is essential to question the integrity of the media, and to explore the roots of its problems.
  • The media is over brimming with generalizations, fueling stereotypes; hyperbole; and symbolism, that many times the truth and focus of the story is lost.
    • Examples of misrepresentations include: men burning flags, Egyptian militant Abu Hamza as-Masri being portrayed as Captain Hook, and Osama Bin Laden as a cave man.
  • This is not to say that stereotypes are not predominant in Muslim media either, where the US and UK are used to paint wide generalizations of the West.
what is the problem
What is the problem?
  • Important issues are ignored.
    • The news must entertain the mass and feed its target audience, and therefore the networks appease the particular audience it is targeting, neglecting the rest of the community and its respective interests.
    • News has become a consumerist product in itself, feeding a certain population rather than informing them
  • Most of what we see and hear is homogenous.
    • News stations have the same goal of attaining the largest audience possible, therefore, they are constantly competing amongst themselves for the same audience.
    • Eg: International Herald Tribune owned by the New York Times and the same stories appear in both periodicals.
  • Society is misrepresented.
    • Due to abundant use of generalizations, exaggerations, and the use of symbols. Eg: Alls Muslims are Arabs.
    • Eg: Associating Islam with violence and painting an image of all terrorists as Islamic militants
  • Advertising is out of control
    • Most news stations are run by corporations and therefore, are not seeking the well-being of the community but the well-being and the future of itself, which is usually sought through greater profit margins.
  • Violent and sexually explicit images are everywhere.
    • Violence and sex sell in a materialistic driven society; another example of satisfying the appetites of the audience
the root of the problem
The Root of the Problem
  • Follow the money – who controls the media?
    • Profit trumps the public interest in Western media.
  • Profit is not a consideration of Muslim-controlled media, but that is not to say it does not have problems.
    • Instead of profit overruling the public interest, it is state interest.
  • A small elitist business group controls the media in the United States, whereas the State (a small elitist group) governs Muslim media.
    • Keep in mind the US’s greatest export is its culture.
  • Citizens do not have the opportunity to play an active role.
    • This is an issue in both US and Muslim media.
growing divide
Growing Divide
  • The American and Muslim perspective is constructed through distinct world worldviews
    • An image or word is perceived in extremely different ways.
  • The polarizing rhetoric of leaders on each side has shaped and reinforced the dichotomy.
  • The Arab media revolution, propelled largely through satellite television channels such as al-Jazeera, and the rise of “patriot journalism” in the U.S., has marginalized the voice of moderation, distorting perceptions of both sides and increasing the gap in understanding of the American and Muslim world.
    • The impact has been dramatically enhanced by the growth of satellite television and non-traditional media outlets in the Muslim world.
a step in the right direction change the rules change the media
A Step in the Right DirectionChange the Rules, Change the Media
  • For the media in the West, changing the structural policies will be necessary if we want to see a media system that serves the interest of the people, providing greater diversity, accountability, independent voices, and questioning rather than generalizing.
  • For the media in the Muslim world, political reform is key for freedom of expression and for a more independent media that covers more than the State’s concerns.
reflections points food for thought
Reflections Points (Food for Thought)
  • Exploring new means of sharing knowledge and galvanizing dialogue.
  • The internet has become a rapidly expanding medium to share one’s thoughts.
    • Blogs
  • Are blogs the answer to providing a voice for the marginalized?
  • Iran and Iraq have active blogging scenes.
    • What is the impact of this activity?
what s next best practices
What’s Next – Best Practices
  • Group exercise: discuss most constructive, innovative and strategic means to solve the problem of misrepresentation, accountability, and transparency of the media