Washington State’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication published “Islam for Journalists A Primer on Covering Muslim Communities in America” edited by Lawrence Pintak and Stephen Franklin. You can find their work here: Islam for Journalists
Throughout this article I’ll refer to it as the “booklet.” It is a collection of short articles written by various people associated with covering or writing about Islam. Each article focuses upon a specific theme and presents advice and lessons-learned for journalists.
Pintak’s goal was to prepare and educate journalists covering Islam-related topics:
It is meant to be a “how-to, what is” primer by journalists for journalists — and anyone else who wants a clear, straightforward briefing on this important topic. We have no axe to grind, other than a desire to see accurate, balanced reporting of this topic, which has such broad impact on American society today. (Page 7)
As I read the booklet I realized that Pintak’s sense of accuracy and balance is quite different than mine. He was pre-determined to present an “Islam is moderate and benign” point of view and nowhere in the booklet are there criticisms of Islam. Doctrinally-justified Islamic aggression is behind much of the violence and terrorism in the world today and this theme is omitted completely from the booklet. Shouldn’t the link between a Muslim’s violent actions and his religious motivation be established? Muslim terrorists draw their strength and base their actions on the teachings of Islam’s source materials and Muhammad’s example, therefore a balanced reporting or discussion on this topic would have covered this. Aside from the violence the booklet touches on other Islamic-related themes which are also addressed inadequately. To that end I’ve compiled about a dozen or so of the booklet’s errors, omissions, or one-sided views, and on the other hand I’ve highlighted some points that I believe are sound, beneficial, and balanced.
ERRORS AND OMISSIONS IN “ISLAM FOR JOURNALISTS”
Most of the material in the booklet is general and acceptable. Pintak could have copied basic information from Wikipedia and coupled it with journalist’s experiences and advice. I won’t quibble about minor points and nuance since even among those who are critical of Islam there are disagreements. Instead I am going to focus on the booklet’s major errors.
My criticisms may be sharp but I don’t want to come off as strident. As a Christian this subject is important to me and I’ve devoted much of my life to this ministry focusing upon educating the church and polemical outreach to Muslims. Accuracy and balance, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. I hope to bring you the other side of the story for balance and contrast.
Bear with me when I generalize and say things like, “Islam rejects …”. Just as you find a wide range of Christians you will find all types of Muslims in the world today. Muslims can be found as liberal to conservative, homosexual to having plural wives, violent to peaceful, etc. When I state, “Islam rejects” I am referring to the central doctrines of Islam, established by the major Sunni theological schools. The Shia Ja’fari school parallels the Sunni in the main doctrines and points I am talking about. These schools anchor their tenets in Islam’s source materials: the Quran, the hadith (anecdotal stories revolving around Muhammad which illustrate theological points), and the sira (biographical / historical writings about Muhammad). I will provide Islamic references supporting my statements position. Click here to read the entire article http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/silas/islam_for_journalists.html