Muslim Brotherhood

Concerning the New York Times: 'Fake' news? No. 'Flawed' or 'flavored' news? From time to time ...

Concerning the New York Times: 'Fake' news? No. 'Flawed' or 'flavored' news? From time to time ...

It's the question many journalists are hearing right now from family and online friends as discussions of "fake news" keep heating up: "OK, where am I supposed to go to find balanced, accurate reporting these days?"

As you would expect, when I hear that question there is often an editorial twist in it, something like this: "OK, where am I supposed to go to find balanced, accurate reporting on religion news these days?" That's the question that loomed in the background during the latest "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in), as host Todd Wilken and I discussed the fact that GetReligion marked it's 13th birthday this week.

It's crucial, for starters, to recognize that there are online sources that seem to welcome fake news and then there are established media brands that seem, every now and then, to catch a fake-news virus that affects one or two stories or issues. You can see my colleague Paul Glader of The King's College (he also directs The Media Project that includes GetReligion) striving to make that distinction in his Forbes piece, "10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts."

Glader is absolutely right on this basic issue of ethics and quality. At the same time, the minute I read the headline on his piece I could hear the voices of skeptical online friends saying, "Is that '10 Journalism Brands Where You WILL Find Real Facts' or is it '10 Journalism Brands Where You CAN Find Real Facts'?"

As we have stressed many times here at GetReligion, the quality of mainstream media coverage of religion news is consistently inconsistent. There are professionals who do fantastic work and then, in the same newsroom, there are reporters and editors who -- when it comes to getting religion -- think up is down and down is up. They don't know what they don't know.

For example, contrast the informed and nuanced religion-beat coverage of issues linking politics and religion at The Washington Post with the tone-deaf material produced throughout 2016 by the political desk in that newsroom.

Meanwhile, what are we to make of The New York Times, which remains one of the world's top two news organizations (I put BBC in that mix, as well) in terms of its reach and ambitions?

Anyone who ignores the high quality of work done at The Times is, well, ignoring the facts.

Yet it is clear, as the newspaper's own editor has stated, that the great Gray Lady struggles when it comes to grasping many basic facts about life in ordinary America -- starting with the role of religious faith in the life of millions of ordinary people (including in New York City).

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Another attack on Copts in Egypt: Once again, the details make the horrors even worse

Another attack on Copts in Egypt: Once again, the details make the horrors even worse

Another bombing in a Coptic Orthodox sanctuary in Egypt, with at least 25 dead and that stunning number is expected to rise.

People, please allow me to speak as an Orthodox Christian for a moment. During recent years, it has been hard not to dwell on the hellish stories coming out of Iraq and Syria, with the Islamic State crushing Christians, Yazidis, traditional Muslims and members of other religious minorities. Ancient monasteries and churches, with irreplaceable libraries and works of sacred art, have vanished from the face of the earth.

It has been easy to overlook the horrors that have continued to unfold in Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere. In my own daily prayers, I have continued to pray for those dying in these lands, as well as in the ISIS zone. Quite frankly, it is easy to slide into despair about all of this.

The mainstream press coverage of this attack has been very straightforward and has -- appropriately so -- shown that Coptic believers, once again, are caught in a clash between two Islamic factions inside the tense religious and political culture of Egypt. The only confusion in the coverage concerns some basic and crucial facts, as in the specific location of the attack and why the vast majority of the dead were women and children.

So which church was bombed? Let's start with The New York Times, which has the actual location of the attack wrong:

CAIRO -- A bomb ripped through a section reserved for women at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral during Sunday morning Mass, killing at least 25 people and wounding 49, mostly women and children, Egyptian state media said.
The attack was the deadliest against Egypt’s Christian minority in years. Video from the blast site circulating on social media showed blood-smeared floors and shattered pews among the marble pillars at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the seat of Egypt’s Orthodox Christian Church, where the blast occurred in a chapel adjacent to the main building.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Update on status of Samuel P. Huntington's predicted 'Clash of Civilizations'

Update on status of Samuel P. Huntington's predicted 'Clash of Civilizations'

The global news continues to grow grimmer. The great unraveling seems to be accelerating even faster than it can be Tweeted.

The primary focal points are the Middle East, North Africa and Europe -- the last largely as a result of the mass dislocations caused by war and poverty in the first two. Some sub-Saharan African nations -- Nigeria and hopelessly dysfunctional Somalia, to name just two -- certainly may be included.

Thanks to our globalized media, all this misery, fear, murderous depravity and loathing flows into our homes and awareness in real time. And we call this progress, a communications revolution.

An explanation for this meditation seems necessary.

Perhaps a good place to begin is by reflecting again on what has been labeled the "Clash of Civilizations." The term is most often attributed to Samuel P. Huntington, the late Harvard international affairs professor and Carter administration national security adviser, even though it was actually used years earlier by the Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus and others.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the clash spoken of is the cognitive and emotional gulf that sets one portion of humanity apart from another, leading to hostility rooted in conflicting values generally expressed in religious, political and economic terms. Civilization refers to the sum total of a group's world view, its professed religious values acting as a cultural cornerstone.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Elite newsrooms avoid 'liberal' issues, as Obama visits mosque with an interesting past

Elite newsrooms avoid 'liberal' issues, as Obama visits mosque with an interesting past

Present Barack Obama's visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, located in the old Catonsville suburb, was an event that was both important and symbolic for a number of reasons.

For starters, violence linked to the rise of the Islamic State, as well as acts of terrorism inspired by radicalized forms of Islam, have become a bloody normality in world headlines during the years of the Obama presidency. President Obama has attempted to maintain what his supporters argue is a graceful, calm stance on these trends in an attempt to avoid pouring gasoline on the flames. His critics insist that he has chosen blindness, for motives that remain unclear.

Oh, and then there are those bizarre numbers that keep showing up in polls whenever Americans are asked if they believe Obama is, in fact, a Muslim (despite his adult conversion into a liberal, oldline Protestant band of faith).

Thus, the speech at the Baltimore-area mosque received major coverage, as it should. Most of the coverage did a good job of covering, in glowing terms, the content of the Obama message (full text here). What puzzled me, however, was the lack of attention focused on the location. This left me -- as usual -- puzzled about current trends in "liberal" and "conservative" journalism. Hold that thought.

This passage in The Washington Post report captured the mainstream media tone:

The historic 45-minute speech at a large, suburban Baltimore mosque was attended by some of the country’s most prominent Muslims. In what appeared to be a counter to the rise in Islamophobia ...

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Another press perplexity: So who speaks for Muslims in the United States?

Another press perplexity: So who speaks for Muslims in the United States?

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is an awkwardly but accurately named alliance formed in 1955 to give the nation’s variegated Jews a united voice on key matters. Reportedly the Eisenhower White House either originated or promoted the idea of an umbrella group to make life simpler for everybody. The New York City-based conference encompasses 55 groups, communal, political and religious, and pretty much includes all sectors of Jewish life except the stricter forms of Orthodoxy, Hasidism and the anti-Zionist sects.

With less media notice than it deserves, a similar U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations was established in Washington, D.C., in 2014 with a constituency of 19 religious and communal groups.

At the moment, USCMO is no place for busy reporters to do their one-stop shopping to obtain quick, representative quotes and handy background info. However, if it can consolidate support this is certainly an organization to watch. USCMO says its purposes are “to build an active, integrated American Muslim community,” to “speak with one clear, communal voice” and to “support a national agenda for the entire Muslim community.”

These are tall orders given the numerous ethnicities and fiefdoms.

Founders include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim American Society and The Mosque Cares, led by W. Deen Mohammed II, who is USCMO’s treasurer. Absent are factions seen as heterodox like the Ahmadiyyas, Moorish Science and Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, which embraces the black nationalism of Mohammed’s grandfather. The prominent Islamic Society of North America is not affiliated but has joined USCMO events. The list looks to be stronger on Sunni than Shi’a and Sufi representation.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

WPost whoppers about the Muslim Brotherhood

Claims of bias and inaccurate reporting have dogged the Western press’s coverage of Egypt since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. A story in this week’s Washington Post entitled “In Egypt, many shrug as freedoms disappear” will do little to restore confidence. The article eschews the classical news story format in favor of an impressions and perceptions style. Its lede states:

The charges are often vague. The evidence is elusive. Arrests occur swiftly, and the convictions follow. And there is little transparency in what analysts have called the harshest political crackdown in Egypt in decades.

But many Egyptians say they are all right with that.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Pod people: What's religion got to do with Egyptian tourism?

In the wake of the events of 9/11, I had the honor of taking part in a forum on religion and the news at the University of Nebraska that, no surprise here, featured a keynote speech by historian Martin Marty, an omnipresent scholar who has probably done as much as anyone to promote serious work on the Godbeat.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Where is the BBC's coverage of Egypt?

What lays behind the Anglo-American press’s failure to report on the chaos in Egypt?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

What do Egyptians really mean when they say 'sharia'?

One of the major themes in GetReligion posts about Islam over the past decade has been our emphasis on the fact that there is no one monolithic Islam, no one simplistic way for journalists to approach that faith.

Please respect our Commenting Policy