When it comes to covering religion, often the loudest voices are the most extreme ones. Research done by the Pew Research Center shows that Muslims now face more restrictions than any other religious group. With islamophobia on the rise internationally, reporters have the potential to combat incorrect and hateful dialogue surrounding Muslims. Reporters across the U.S. have already used their voices to inspire readers to meet and talk with Muslims in their community.
Here are three strategies reporters can employ to increase tolerance.
Create a guide to common questions asked about Muslims. Students at Michigan State University created something like this by collecting One Hundred Questions and Answers about Muslim Americans. Resources like this can increase the visibility of how average Muslim Americans live and work.
Host a series of columns or radio reports on your platform where the audience can submit questions to men and women of religious minorities. Readers may feel more comfortable with respectfully asking anonymous questions. See if you can make your news organization a channel for discussion between Muslims and non-Muslims.
When reporting on Islam, base your reporting on an understanding of the everyday lives of Muslims in the country you are covering. Make sure to emphasize that no one individual can or should speak for the entirety of the Muslim community. Feel free to review Kalpana Jain’s Six Reporting Tips for Covering Islam in America. Jain is a highly respected journalist based at Harvard known for her reporting at the Times of India.
Always remember to share your personal experiences with covering Islam with fellow journalists. An open dialogue about how to properly cover the Muslim community is key to erasing the hateful and extremist voices surrounding Islam.
The 2019 G20 Interfaith Forum this year will feature a media panel where prominent journalists will share their experiences with covering religion over the years.