Friday, March 7, 2008

Whatever happened to calling spade a spade?

The trouble with the tyranny of politicallycorrectspeak is that the a journalists' job is no longer to describe the world as it is.He is under intense pressure to right by all the 'right' concerns -racism, environment, community-cohesion, 'Islamophobia', global warming and other innumerable causes and concerns whose rightness a typical mainstream mediaperson takes for granted.

There are so many concerns to look out for that the media is filled with journalists who can't report straight.

Charles Johnson cuts to the chase-
If you’ve wondered why so many mainstream media stories about Islamic issues omit important details and draw spurious morally equivalent conclusions, wonder no more. They’re doing it on purpose.

This was apparently released by the Society of Professional Journalists shortly after the 9/11 attacks: Guidelines for Countering Racial, Ethnic and Religious Profiling.
On Oct. 6 at its National Convention in Seattle, the Society of Professional Journalists passed a resolution urging members and fellow journalists to take steps against racial profiling in their coverage of the war on terrorism and to reaffirm their commitment to:

— Use language that is informative and not inflammatory;

Portray Muslims, Arabs and Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans in the richness of their diverse experiences;

Visual images

Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing Americans mourning those lost in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

— Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds when photographing rescue and other public service workers and military personnel.

— Use photos and features to demystify veils, turbans and other cultural articles and customs.


Seek out and include Arabs and Arab Americans, Muslims, South Asians and men and women of Middle Eastern descent in all stories about the war, not just those about Arab and Muslim communities or racial profiling.

— Cover the victims of harassment, murder and other hate crimes as thoroughly as you cover the victims of overt terrorist attacks.

Make an extra effort to include olive-complexioned and darker men and women, Sikhs, Muslims and devout religious people of all types in arts, business, society columns and all other news and feature coverage, not just stories about the crisis.

— Seek out experts on military strategies, public safety, diplomacy, economics and other pertinent topics who run the spectrum of race, class, gender and geography.

When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist, radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.

— When describing Islam, keep in mind there are large populations of Muslims around the world, including in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, India and the United States. Distinguish between various Muslim states; do not lump them together as in constructions such as “the fury of the Muslim world.”

— Avoid using word combinations such as “Islamic terrorist” or “Muslim extremist” that are misleading because they link whole religions to criminal activity. Be specific: Alternate choices, depending on context, include “Al Qaeda terrorists” or, to describe the broad range of groups involved in Islamic politics, “political Islamists.” Do not use religious characterizations as shorthand when geographic, political, socioeconomic or other distinctions might be more accurate.

— Avoid using terms such as “jihad” unless you are certain of their precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations. The basic meaning of “jihad” is to exert oneself for the good of Islam and to better oneself.

— Consult the Library of Congress guide for transliteration of Arabic names and Muslim or Arab words to the Roman alphabet. Use spellings preferred by the American Muslim Council, including “Muhammad,” “Quran,” and “Makkah,” not “Mecca.”

— Regularly seek out a variety of perspectives for your opinion pieces. Check your coverage against the five Maynard Institute for Journalism Education fault lines of race and ethnicity, class, geography, gender and generation.

Notice that among the suggestions there is not one about reporting facts as they are and no more or no less.
Read the whole thing.
(emphasis mine)