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SPJ's Diversity Blog » 2017 » April | A Society of Professional Journalists Blog

Archive for April, 2017

Asian American Journalists Association Launches Muslim Sources Database

Accurately and fairly covering the Muslim community has been a problem. While SPJ is working to expand journalism training to objectively covering the Muslim community through the Muslimedia program, there are other journalism groups that are also looking to help journalists be better in their coverage.

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has launched the Diverse Muslim Sources database to help journalists cover and better cover Muslim/Muslim-American issues. It’s free to use and right now, journalists can request access and sources can request to be listed.

Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Senior Vice President of AAJA, explains how important the database is and how both journalists and sources can participate.

Dori Zinn: How did the idea for the source database come about?

Michelle Ye Hee Lee: It came about as news coverage unfolded of President Trump’s first immigration executive order. There was so much coverage of Muslims in America, but just through the lens of the immigration policy or in the context of suspected and attempted terrorist activity in the country. This often tends to be the case with news coverage when it comes to Muslim America.

Have you come across journalists that have had trouble finding Muslim sources?

I’ve heard from many journalists who said they appreciate having updated guidelines for covering Muslim America and having a new database that can help diversify their coverage. As journalists, especially when we’re on deadline, we tend to find the sources we know and trust and have been quoted before by other media outlets. So the more diverse expert voices that are being quoted in news stories, the more robust coverage will become.

How long did it take to make? Who created it?

I created AAJA’s Muslim American Task Force by getting volunteers from inside and outside our organization. We moved quickly, knowing that we have a lot to do and that we should act quickly to provide as many tangible resources as possible. Within 48 hours of my first call-out for volunteers, we had about 20 people on a conference call. We brainstormed ideas, divided into committees, came up with our priority projects, and got to work that night. The Diverse Muslim Sources database is one of three projects we started on immediately. The other is updating AAJA’s Guide to Covering Muslim America, which hadn’t been updated since 2012. The other is a Partnerships Committee that reached out to other groups taking on similar efforts so that we can all be in communication and help each other.

What is your goal for this database?

The goal is to provide resources for journalists covering Muslim communities. This database is to help journalists find and identify sources from a variety of backgrounds, in their own local markets or nationally, for a fuller, richer and more accurate coverage of Muslim America.


Request access or to be added here.



New Toolkit on Reporting on Race Now Available

Earlier this month, the National Association of Broadcasters released a Reporting on Race toolkit. The free toolkit is now publicly available.

“Every day, newsrooms across the country face challenging questions regarding the coverage of communities of color,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith at the April 12 event. “These stories can be among the most complicated for stations to cover since journalists understand that what they report can influence as well as reflect situations and circumstances in a community. NAB is proud to work alongside the NAB Education Foundation and our partner organizations to assist newsrooms in reporting on race.”

The digital toolkit, made with help from journalists, news directors, journalism school faculty and industry leaders, is geared toward a wide range of journalists, including management, producers, reporters, photographers, and others who handle publishing content.

NAB says the toolkit is the first phase of the Awareness in Reporting initiative. Phase two will be a toolkit on covering religion. Access the toolkit now.


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