Minority groups and modern media: a war of its own

In a talk, entitled 'Muslims and the media", the treatment of minority groups was brought into discussion. Photo credit: futureplastics.ie.

The political turmoil between Western society and Islamic culture has fundamentally – and permanently – redefined modern journalistic practices, with every one of our well-favoured news outlets equally responsible for contributing to the European epidemic of Islamophobia.

Two weeks ago, the head of RTE’s religious programmes, Roger Childs, spoke at an event for journalists, focusing on Muslim media reception.

He said when it comes to public’s knowledge of Islam, news media is the number one educator on the matter; rendering religious programmes almost futile.

To follow on from Childs, a young academic took to the stage and spoke about the media’s vicious smear campaign against the Muslim population in order to aid their own self-interests.

Implausible as it may seem, these interests are very real – and are existing within our news media today. And, although the fear of Muslim culture seems to be the most dominant phenomenon plaguing today’s society, many more cultures and nationalities have been, and continue to be, ostracised at the hands of ill-intended journalism.

The common argument is that newsrooms are faced with a number of pressure factors that influence the output of produced media. Severe time constraints, limited budgets, and lack of outside sources have all been cited as factors affecting the quality of the news.

However, media organisations tend to play down aspects like interests of business owners and the over-reliance on government officials as sources – which equally dominate the landscape.

The Guardian columnist Piers Robinson, outlined the problems existing within our news media today, as well as the traps the public often fall into as a result of placing their trust in the ‘more reliable’ western media, while dismissing media from outside the west as ‘corrupted’ and ‘state-sponsored propaganda’.

His article examines the relationship between European and Russian media in the wake of current political tensions, but makes specific references to media coverage surrounding the Iraq War in 2003 – when a vast majority of UK and US media were manipulated into reinforcing official views in order to gain public support for the invasion.

“Propaganda and deception is not, it would appear, the sole preserve of non-western states; it is alive and well in western democracies,” Robinson says.

His article points to an imminent flaw within the modern media of which even The Guardian itself can’t be declared exempt, given the strong anti-Brexit coverage the publication engaged in prior to the referendum.

As a rising generation of academics, it is our duty to be aware of the greater powers at work in our society; and understand not only the facts we’re reporting, but the underlying agendas behind them.

Although it is impossible to be completely immune from all biases, we need to do our best to provide the public with well-informed and impartial accounts despite the growing pressures – because sloppiness cannot justify the slow destruction of democracy.

As the renowned journalist John Pilger put it: “Propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far-away enemy, but you at home.”

Arthur Velker

Image Credit: futureplastics.ie

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