Attending MEND’s recent Media Masterclass has empowered me hold the media to account. You might ask why? It’s because I can. And so, can you!
Living in the 21st century, the media is in fact, to date, the most influential platform that exists globally, there’s no denying that. The internet is frequently referred to as, ‘the gift from God’, but yet again the media has allowed humans to become a mere responsive stimulus and we have unfortunately lost the power to question and seek the truth. I guess humans aren’t totally to blame. Of course, we’re going to believe everything that we’re told, that’s another humanistic trait we don’t want to lose.
Rewinding back to the genocide that occurred in 1994 in Rwandan displayed one of the most horrific crimes against mankind since the Holocaust of World War II, resulting in a significant number of innocent deaths. Western media failed to report the invisible genocide; 80% of the country’s Tutsi population were wiped out. The media reported it as a low level civil war and grossly underestimated the number of deaths each day. After the trauma, the media became defensive and blamed the international community for not intervening. The reality is, how can they be expected to intervene, if they have not been exposed to the realities of the matter?
The reporting media failed and the world suffered…
As humanity, we have to live with the regret that the media sacrificed the truth and with no remorse they continue to play this game again and again.
It is only recently that the media have highlighted an inch of the mass ethnic cleansing that is taking place in Rakhine sate, Myanmar. Do you think its hidden truth has really been shared? The first wave of Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh in 1978. This Refugee crises has been going on for 40 years and we have only recently heard the rain-drop of its thunder storm.
How long until we have to fight for the truth?
It is this fight for the truth that I am holding onto and it is this fight for the truth that makes it vital for us to hold the media to account. Lancaster University Research confirmed that for every positive portrayal of Islam in the media, there are 21 negative portrayals. How amazing would it be if we as a community together published the truth of Islam, flipping that ratio, and together changing the Muslim narrative that exists today?
After attending the workshop, I was enlightened to the power that we all have. We have the power to shed light on the extensive positive influence that Muslims have in Britain today; simply by holding the media to account.
IPSO which stands for Independent Press Standards Organisation, allows us to complain when there has been a breach in their, ‘Code of Practice’. These breaches include, ‘significant inaccuracies or misleading information (including headlines) that aren’t supported by the text’ either in newspapers or online articles.
And guess what? The ‘Code of Practice’ also states that ‘the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, RELIGION, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability’. I bet you are all thinking of the countless number of articles that you have read that comment on an individual’s RELIGION; especially when it’s Islam. If that has raged you, then you can make a change.
MEND’s actions have been successful in the past for removing inaccurate and discriminatory information that is frequently being published. But one organisation isn’t enough… we need the whole ummah to join in the cause.
Actions that you need to take!
MEND observe the press and media, whenever they see a breach of the ‘Code of Practice’ they immediately write a complaint to IPSO addressing the specific breach that has been made. MEND’s Action Alert allows everyone free access to the ready-made written complaint.
All you have to do is:
In chapter 53, verses 39-40 of the Qur’an, Allah swt says,
وَأن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلاّ مَا سَعَیو
“And that there is not for man except that good for which he strives. (39)
أنَّ سَعْيَهُ سَوْفَ يُرَی
And that his effort is going to be seen”. (40)
This is a reminder to us, that as Muslims we have hope and we remember that it is our efforts that will be counted on the day of judgement and this should be our focus.
For every 21 positive portrayals of Islam there are 0 negative portrayals. That’s what we want to hear!
Remember: An influx of complaints from citizens that demand accuracy will ensure the media are held to account. Let’s make them think twice about the lies they confidently share.
Shuhani Shohid is a Law Graduate who has particular interests in self-development. She is a Young Ambassador for DofE Wales and a PGCE student who believes in a growth mindset in nurturing the next generation.