7 tips on how to respond to media madness
Whether it's the anti-Muslim television movie or the newspaper article full of lies about women in Islam, the media is still a challenge for Muslims. Here are seven simple things you can do about it:
1. Watch or read the whole thing
If you caught part of a sitcom or an article mocking Muslims, finish watching the whole show or reading the article first. Get the whole picture before going after a part of it.
2. Take down the precise details
The exact date, time and channel, as well as a general description of the subject matter is important to note down in the case of a radio or television show. For written material, take down the exact date, page number and issue of a newspaper or magazine, as well as the name of the author.
3. Call them first to get information
Before you complain, find out who the right person is to direct complaints to. Get their exact title (i.e. producer, executive producer, etc.) telephone number, fax and e-mail address. Also ask for any particulars: is there a certain time to call or fax; how long should letters be, etc. This way, you can draft an appropriate response and are more likely to have it heard.
4. Tell others to do the same
Once you've gotten this information, call other Muslims and let them know about the incident. Give them the place or person to complain to. Encourage them to do this right away. If more people respond sooner, it is more likely something will be done about the issue, Insha Allah (if Allah wills). Remind people to be firm but polite. Threatening the target of complaint is not Islamic, nor will it serve the cause of Islam or Muslims.
5. Write and send off your own complaint
Once you've got this information, draft your own response. Save a copy on your computer for your own records. If you're calling, note down the day and time of your call.
6. Follow up on the complaint
If over a week has passed and you haven't heard any response, call the media outlet to find out what happened. If they refuse to offer an apology or respond to your complaint, keep your cool, and take the next step.
7. Find out who they're accountable to
Most media have someone they answer to. This can be the body which grants their broadcasting licenses or press councils in the case of the print medium. Call them and find out if and how you can register a complaint.
Also, see if a local human rights body or commission has a section dealing with media prejudice and discrimination. They are also a place you can register a complaint with.
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