In the wake of the war on Iraq, Muslims need to be informed, aware and pro-active when dealing with the American media, which, in the past, has led to nasty media coverage of Islam and Muslims when similar world events have taken place.
Below is a list of tips Muslims can use when dealing with the media in these critical next few weeks.
1. Form a media group in your local community
Get together with a couple of Muslims in your community (it can be as few as seven or eight) to form a Muslim media watch group in your city. Select a spokesperson. This person should ideally have some experience dealing with the media. If not, that's fine, as long as they feel confident speaking to the media. This person should be able to speak English very well, preferably without a foreign accent, and be articulate.
All members of the group should work together to monitor all of the local media (radio, television and newspapers) to see how the attack is being covered and if it is being linked to Islam and Muslims.
2. Issue a press release stating your position
This statement must be sent as soon as possible to the news desk of all media outlets in your city. Your group's spokesperson should be ready to handle calls from reporters who will probably call as a follow up to the statement.
3. Carefully record and monitor your local media
Clip all articles in the newspaper that appear about the war. Also, record all television and radio reports. This way, you will have proof of anti-Muslim bias when you approach media professionals.
4. Contact offending media organizations and demand a meeting with them
In a polite but firm manner, someone from your group should contact the editor or head of the offending news organization to arrange a meeting about their coverage of the war.
a. Keep handy information about past media transgressions against Muslims
Examples of the media coverage of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing are good material to have handy to show editors and journalists that they should be careful about how they cover this incident. Your group should also have on hand information about Muslim bashers who were prominent at that time and still are, such as Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes.
b. Be polite but firm
Tensions will be running high and if you also fly off the handle, the situation can get dangerous. Make sure to remain calm in the face of these attacks, but be polite and firm when explaining your points.
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