A new course on Islam designed for journalists tries to minimize the impact and importance of ''jihad'' by comparing it to the number of murders in America each year. That same course claims ''right-wing activists'' tried to tie American Muslims to terrorism and doesn't mention examples of Islamic attacks on press freedom.
That's the way a prominent news organization is teaching journalists in a three-hour online course. The Poynter News University, part of the Poynter Institute, launched the free course ''Covering Islam in America'' to guide the media on their coverage of Muslim communities.
The George Soros-funded Social Science Research Council, which received $50,000 from the Open Society Institute ''For Initiative on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation,'' is one of the groups behind the initiative, along with the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. That fits with a theme for liberal financier Soros, who has spent more than $52 million on influencing the media. The Islamic course also links to another Soros-funded entity, the well-financed Center for American Progress.
In about 30 pages of text with links to other reports and articles, journalists can go through and read about the history of Islam, Muslims in America, and how to cover stories on Islam. Besides learning basic facts about Muslims and their history, the course adds ways to put ''jihad'' into perspective, attack conservatives, and provide a list of liberal groups that can be contacted for expert advice and quotes.
The pre and post-assessments give a hint as to the nature of the course. One question asked, ''What grievances might sources associated with 'Political Islam' hold against Western journalists?'' The answer is that ''Western journalists are seen as all of the following: ''hostile to Islam,'' ''focus too much on Islamic violence,'' ''viewed as water carriers for Western government agendas,'' and ''thought to be unable to understand Islam unless they embrace Islam.''
Course instructors Lawrence Pintak and Stephen Franklin are both former foreign correspondents. Pintak serves as dean at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, which is a partner of the project. He also has two books on journalism and Islam and defends the biased, activist network Al Jazzera English.
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