I don’t intend this as a political commentary, although some will surely see it as such. I do have feelings on the issue, which will come out in this post. But my intent in writing this is to focus on the journalistic aspects of what has become a hot-button issue.
The Islamic cultural center that’s proposed to be built in
There seem to be a few misconceptions that have been conveniently overlooked by conservative politicians, bloggers and some media.
· * The site for the proposed Islamic cultural center is NOT at Ground Zero.
· * The proposed cultural center will be open to people of all religions and will have programs
and activities to serve the broader community, not only Muslims. It has been compared to
· * There are already several storefront mosques in the immediate area that provide places to
worship for Muslims who work downtown.
· * The imam at the proposed cultural center is known to be moderate and not supportive of
radicals who promote terrorism.
But conservatives, supported both willingly and unknowingly, have been pushing the erroneous statements that the mosque will be at Ground Zero, that it will be a place that will foster further intolerance and terrorism, and that it follows the Muslim practice of building a mosque on sites of conquests.
to a recent story on National Public Radio, FOX News was the first to call the
proposed cultural center the “Ground Zero Mosque,” back in December. That name took on a life of its own, it
seems, after President Obama said Muslims, like all other religions in the
Conservative media have jumped all over this, and then mainstream media picked up on it, along with the unfortunate and inaccurate headline “Ground Zero Mosque.”
The Associated Press, which feeds news to some 1,500 newspapers and thousands of radio and TV newsrooms, let the headline "Ground Zero Mosque" slip into a story, even though the story, in the first paragraph, indicated it is two blocks away -- and not at Ground Zero. The AP has since corrected itself, and most other media are now being more careful in their description of the location and the purpose of the cultural center.
But this episode shows, once again, how easily and dangerously the line can blur between legitimate, accurate news reporting and slanted, inaccurate and at times inflammatory "news" that quickly gets out online. As I've written before, news media are under tremendous pressure now to get it out quickly. But sometimes, it takes a bit of time to get accurate information, edit it clearly, and oversee the whole process to be sure it is fair, balanced and true.
The news media have always been and should continue to be the eyes and ears for the public, so they can be better informed -- especially at election time. We can't afford to let the pressures of the 24/7 news cycle compromise the core values of good journalism.