Saturday, September 05, 2009

The N&O's Grudge Against the IAR?

I got wind of this article today, and really it dwarfs my other recent complaints against the N&O. And this time it's written by the paper's Executive Editor, John Drescher. After watching him on WRAL's Headline Saturday, I've got to say I'm really hoping that he takes the N&O down.

Now, setting my personal biases aside, let's look at his complaints about the IAR. He tries, as did a previous article I blogged about before, to illustrate some "shocking" change of position on the part of the IAR administration. Basically, he thinks that before the arrests of 7 local Muslims accused of terrorism, the mosque used to be "open," and that now (afterwards,) the mosque is "closed." To the media, that is.

He's upset about restrictions on journalists that the IAR supposedly is enforcing. Now, I never heard about these restrictions until this article, so I can't really say if they're true or not, but let's just go with the flow. One such restriction is that journalists aren't allowed to interview anyone except a mosque spokesperson on the facility premises. And I think that's a pretty good idea, personally. Let me explain.

I've read plenty of articles thus far about the men who were arrested, and people (journalists, bloggers, etc.) love to say that they've talked to someone "on the inside." They talked to some random guy at the mosque, and since people don't seem to know better, they assume that person is talking for the entire community. And I've heard some pretty stupid nonsense from some random "unidentified sources." In fact, I've heard some pretty stupid nonsense from people I know who I've seen being interviewed on the news.

Some kid off the street who wants to feel important, get his name in the papers or whatever, can give an interview and then is hailed as being an "insider" who knows the "truth" about what's going on with the men who were arrested. Frankly, it's kind of shameful, the way the media has raised up some obscure and ridiculous interviewees as representative of the entire Muslim community.

The IAR is not part of the indictment. It is a place of worship, a place of learning--in addition to holding worship services five times daily, it also houses three schools, two of which are full-time. I don't think that the media should be able to just enter at will and start photographing people (I know other sisters who might have a serious issue with this!) and interviewing people. People go to the mosque to worship, and to learn about Islam. Why should they have to worry about dodging reporters? And now that it is Ramadan, the mosque fills with people every single night (to such an extent that if you're not on time, you might not find parking anywhere nearby.) I think that's just another reason that the media shouldn't be lurking around the premises.

But more importantly, why does the media want to interview people at the mosque in the first place? The only reason I can think of is that they wish to continue pushing this story about Muslims, and want to catch bystanders willing to profess uninformed judgments about the men who were accused.

So I would like to remind the N&O that the IAR had an Open House just a few weeks ago, an event attended by several local media outlets in addition to elected officials and representatives. And the N&O did not attend. So sure, Mr. Drescher can boast about his "full-time faith reporter." But what good is that if an activity exactly demonstrative of the openness he's looking for is blatantly ignored by his staff? As I understand it, the "full-time faith reporter" was on vacation. So nobody came. Not even someone at a lower level, to at least take pictures.

If the N&O wants accessibility to the IAR, then why didn't he send someone to the Open House? The article is incredibly frustrating, and really doesn't do much to impress on me a favorable opinion of the editor. Moreover, the mosque is not a place to be asking questions about politics or ongoing criminal investigations. Its a place to worship and learn about Islam. What will it take for Mr. Drescher to respect that?


Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

The reporter is just annoyed because the mosque isn't allowing him or his staff to go in and interview just anyone so that they can get some sort of sensation or rumour. However, they also don't want reporters having a feeding frenzy around the mosque when the community is going through a difficult time and the people involved are still innocent until proven guilty. I've never been to Raleigh but something happened in a community I once lived in (Gloucester in England; an accomplice of the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid was from there). The mosque is right and your article is spot on ma sha Allah.

Amy said...

Wa alaykum as-salaam

Thanks, I'm glad you agree. It definitely seems to me, especially after reading this article from Drescher, and hearing his questions on a local television program when he was talking with representatives from the Muslim community, that he just wants to get some sensational story. I left a comment at the online posting of his column, and even there another commenter admitted his misconception based on rumor-fodder provided by local news. The remark was that Daniel Boyd was responsible for an "altercation" during a Friday service.

The N&O has been lately trying to push that story (which is really a non-story, according to everyone who was actually present,) and I've heard so many different people accused of being the person to start it. (Basically someone disagreed with the khateeb.)

But nobody from the news of the community ever said it was Daniel Boyd--that's a jump that person made based on several rumors being strategically placed together.

And isn't that precisely what sensationalism is?

Plus, it's so true that the people involved should be considered innocent until proven guilty. And they're a long way from being proven anything--a trial isn't even close. But yet the media (specifically the N&O) seems to be ready to sentence them without a trial.

Other media outlets have been much more accurate and fair in their representations of the situation. I think it's really only the N&O (which is surely having major financial issues) that's taken such an idiotic stand against the accused.

It really looks like they're going under and trying to spin sensational stories just to stay afloat. Attacking Muslims must be a good way to get the local to buy papers.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

As salaamu 'alaikum,

I hope this Ramadan has been wonderful for you. Truly, as the Hadeeth says, a month of mercy, forgiveness,and emancipation from hell.

We have to be very careful with the media.They will create a story out of nothing, and then disavow any consequences from it.

A few years ago there was a case where a Muslim store employee was killed in a robbery attempt. The local news paper claimed that the mosque [which was located less than one block from the store] was going to send out brothers to do vigilante justice! Truth be told, the deceased never went to the Mosque and was not known by the people there, no one from the Mosque was even interviewed by press, so from where would such an assumption come from? Even the Police chief asked the Imam about the report.

Of course, the newspaper never printed a retraction, but fortunately there was little backlash from their [i.e. media's] attempts to start trouble.