The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mainstream American media bias often ignored by American journalists

This month, the Quill, the official magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, published and essay by Bruce Swafield, a professor of journalism at Regent University at Virgina Beach, VA which targeted the censorship of the media in the United Arab Emirates.

What the professor did not address, of course, is the more egregious censorship of Arab American and Muslim American journalists. While the UAE, according to Swafield, prohibits journalists from excessive criticism of the Royal Family and religious practices, in the United States, Arabs and Muslims are not only censored, theya re boycotted, banned and limited to the point of almost total exclusion from participation in the public discussions.

Journalists who are Arab or Muslim are often discouraged from covering or writing about the injustices that Israel heaps on Arabs and Muslims, while many Jewish Americans are free to explore their own religious and national identities and political views without any challenges.

Hi Mona and Mohammed

The Quill, which is the official magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists, published the following commentary below. I plan to write in response to the focus on the piece and the fact that while American mainstream journalists often tackle the "censorship" and "media restrictions" in the Arab World, they remain virtually silent when it comes to the more sinister practices of anti-Arab biases and bigotry here in the United States media.

The fact is that while the UAE openly prohibits excessive criticism of the Royal Family and the Government, in the United States, the mainstream media acts by an unspoken code of conduct to routinely deny (not 100 percent but almost 95 percent) the expressions of American Arab and Muslim challenges to American foreign policy, the news media bias towards Israel and even to challenge Jewish American writers who routinely violate principles of professional journalism by covering issues involving Israel and the Arab World as if they were objective.

Arab and Muslim Americans are routinely passed over for hiring to fill journalism positions -- there is token representation in the American news media. Arab and Muslims who criticize Israel excessively are pressured, boycotted and excluded.

Arab and Muslim AMerican newspapers are the target of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim boycotts that target mainstream American businesses forcing them to drop advertising in their publications.

And, companies that employ Arabs and Muslims who actively criticize Israel are often forced to fire or dismiss those employees.

The fact is that while the UAE may be criticized for not being a perfectly free society, the United States is not only not free it is oftentimes more restrictive than the UAE and the Arab World media.

While many Arabs and Muslims can easily view biased American based news programs like CNN and FOX News, Arab satellite statiosn have been branded "unpatriotic" and boycotts have been organized across the United States to prevent them from being offered to mainstream American audiences. In some cases, talkshows that focus too heavily on the Palestinian issue and criticism of Israel and also of the Jewish American community activism, are also forced to be removed from programming by the cable TV networks.

Recently, we watched as the mainstream American media barely covered the study of AIPAC, the powerful Israeli lobby that holds the United States Congress in a political headlock vise grip that targets any congress member who challenges pro-Israel American policy.

In contrast to the above discrimination and policies in the United States, the UAE offers greater media freedom to report on the majority of issues including criticism of policies toward Israel, the so-called AMerican defined "war on terrorism" which many believe is in fact a war on Islam.

Just some of my thoughts but I think the Dubai Press Club should respond to this writer below.

I also think that the Dubai Press Club should lead the way in working with Arab American journalists who continue to face a brutal struggle against discrimination and bias and censorship than anywhere else in the Middle East.

Here's the link to the Quill story.

Ray Hanania

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