Hands up if you’ve ever seen a story in the media which misrepresents Muslims?

That’s all of you then.

Now keep your hands up if you have ever made a formal complaint about it either via a letter to the editor or to the press regulator? – hardly any of you in that case.

Herein lies our problem as a Muslim community, we are passionate about wanting to correct bias and misrepresentations of Islam and Muslims, we don’t really know how to go about it.  Or, in many cases, we leave it to somebody else to take the initiative. The good news is that MEND have developed a ‘media monitoring toolkit’ (MMT) which helps guides you through the process of quickly reporting inaccuracies and distortions and getting corrections or apologies on stories that unfairly represent Muslims.  The toolkit has 4 purposes:

1) Readsmart

Rather than trawling aimlessly though the internet, the MMT highlights the websites for the British national press and broadcasters, and other sites which are popular thereby ensuring you focus your energy and attention on media output that is predominantly framing the national conversation and shaping popular attitudes.

2) Comment

Often, people simply read the headline of a story and then skip directly to the comments without reading the full story itself.  People’s perceptions, therefore, of an issue can quite often be framed by a provocative headline and the comments at the bottom of an article.  Muslims are generally pretty bad at commenting on news sites and this must change. Especially on sites which are popular and which enjoy a large readership and have the potential to influence popular attitudes and perceptions.

3) Commend

Although the Muslim community is accustomed to a largely negative press, this does not mean that thoughtful and responsible pieces are not printed.  As and when we come across a reasoned piece, it is important to commend the author and/or so that they may appreciate the value of the piece to the community and how it counterbalances an otherwise pretty heavily skewed debate against Muslims. Remember, we’re not seeking ‘special treatment’, only fair treatment.

4) Complain

This is a critical feature of the MMT.  Whenever you see a factually incorrect or biased story printed about Islam or Muslims (or any subject for that matter) it allows you to quickly identify whom to complain to and how to make an effective complaint.  It won’t take you more than 5 minutes so it is worth the investment of a little time and the effort.