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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Symposium addresses Islam in media

Renowned journalists shared their experiences and views on how Islam is represented in the media at a symposium: “”Journalistic Representations of Islam: Visual and Print.””

The symposium took place Friday and included talks from photojournalist Alexandra Avakian, journalist Nomi Morris and Mort Rosenblum, a UA professor in the School of Journalism.

“”My main clients have been The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, National Geographic, but also the mainstream German, British and French press,”” Avakian said. “”I was basically the first American photographer to be able to travel as widely and deeply in Iran since the revolution.”” 

She shared her experience working in media as a photojournalist and discussed how one has to work within a publication’s “”style.”” Avakian showed the photos she took and compared them to how they were published in magazines.

“”One of my big desires is to leap across what divides us,”” Avakian said.

Avakian also discussed her own inspirations and what she hopes to show through her work.

Maggy Zanger, a UA associate professor of practice at the School of Journalism, thanked Avakian, calling the presentation “”a visual treat.””

Morris talked about the state of knowledge the American public has about Islam and addressed misconceptions about the media’s portrayal of Islam.

She dissected the challenges in the construct of media and the problems journalists face working within it.

Morris believes most journalists do not go in with an agenda, but are trying to do a job in a difficult media environment.

“”People are much too quick to presume bias when they don’t see their own views reflected in what they read,”” Morris said.

She stressed the importance of checking sources and being aware of where information originates.

“”Young people have a responsibility to educate themselves on how to become consumers of media,”” Morris said, explaining that people should be checking the dates, links and agenda of the information they read.

“”They know what they are talking about,”” said Mohammed Tamimi, a second language acquisitions and teaching doctoral student.

Tamimi said the presentations were deeply thought out and not just on the surface of the issues.

“”I was happy to hear Nomi (Morris) bring some perspective,”” Zanger said.

After Avakian and Morris spoke, a free lunch was provided and Rosenblum gave the keynote address.

“”Now everyone has an opinion,”” Rosenblum said. “”We have the impression that we are seeing these places more clearly.””

Rosenblum’s address provided funny anecdotes about his time in the Middle East, but also took a more serious tone addressing the problems concerning the media.

After the address, the symposium closed with a discussion and screening of the film “”Reel Bad Arabs.””

According to Christian Sinclair, assistant director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the symposium was sponsored by the Middle Eastern Studies program, the School of Journalism, and was supported in part by a grant from the Social Science Resource Council. The symposium is part of a larger series called “”Understanding Islam: Bridging the Worlds of Academia and Journalism.””

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