Papua New Guinea

New York Times misses mark in coverage of Australia's rejection of unidentified Muslim refugees

New York Times misses mark in coverage of Australia's rejection of unidentified Muslim refugees

In May I posted an essay here on Australia’s open opposition toward accepting Muslim refugees. It included a reference to The New York Times management deciding to assign a staff correspondent to Australia. My post was headlined: “Will we be seeing more about Muslim immigration ‘down under’ in The New York Times?”

I can now report that the answer to my question is affirmative -- though you might not know it because the religious identity of the majority of the refugees seeking asylum in Australia covered in this new Times story went unmentioned. (Here’s an update to the story noted just above.)

Other than this not-so-minor oversight, the original Manus Island piece -- focused on Australia’s attempt to close a refugee holding camp it established in neighboring Papua New Guinea (the refugees had refused to leave) -- was both well-written and nicely produced (online, at least). It offered an assortment of accompanying dramatic photographs.

Anyone with any understanding of Muslim names and nations, will find the the oversight curiously obvious.

Could it be that the Times is testing our knowledge of the Muslim world? Is this a test-run for the next step in participatory journalism? You know -- match a name with a religion.

Just joking. Clearly, it's an oversight, deliberate or not.

By way of background, here’s the link to a Times opinion piece, not a news report, that caught my eye and led to my May post:

SYDNEY, Australia -- Like many Western countries, Australia has agreed to resettle refugees from the wars in Syria and Iraq. Unlike other countries, Australia explicitly favors Christians, even though they are a minority of those seeking refuge.
The Australian experience is a case study for Europeans grappling with an influx of refugees and for Americans considering the long-term implications of the Trump presidency: When Muslims are demonized, state-directed prejudice is more likely.

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