Islam in Iowa?

The sixth one…

“Iowa is more diverse than people think, if they think of Iowa at all.”

So says Mark Witherspoon, editorial adviser for the student newspaper at Iowa State University in Ames. He was one of three Iowans who brought Muslimedia to town after securing a $250 SPJ micro-grant.

The other two were his wife Brenda, a j-school lecturer who advises the SPJ campus chapter, and senior Nik Heftman, who moderated the discussion.

Brenda Witherspoon says there’s a thriving Muslim community in Iowa…

Our hosts told us that the Islamic Center in Ames serves people from more than 70 countries. Some previously lived in countries with thriving democracies; others didn’t. Some previously lived in areas with thriving journalism; others have little experience with that. (One Islamic woman who participated had trained as a journalist many years ago.) Some have lived in Ames for decades (or were born here); others arrived more recently to this country, to Iowa, or to Ames. 

Heftman moderated the afternoon, which was intentionally limited to 15 journalists and 15 Muslim community members. That decision meant attendees were “consciously submerged in the conversation and willing to learn,” Heftman says.

But he was most impressed by what happened beforehand and afterward…

I was surprised and happy to see everyone connect and start the discussion before the program officially started. After the event, I saw everyone exchanging contact information, story ideas, and their thoughts on the event. It seemed like we successfully brought local journalists and the local muslim community a lot closer. 

If you want to host your own Muslimedia, wherever you are, contact us.

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