We constantly question why certain stories are never covered in the press,
or are distorted, or descriptions of the perpetrators are deficient.


Society of Professional Journalists has the answer. Their “guidelines” for
members requires that they eliminate mention of “islamic terror” and that
they inaccurately define “jihad” and that they consult with islamic
organizations which support terrorism before publishing articles about
terrorism. The guidelines omit the very mention of 9/11 but instead
substitute “the complexities of the events in Pennsylvania, New York City
and Washington, D.C.” for a definition of the islamic terrorist attack. Oh,
and when writing about terrorism, make sure that you also mention “white
supremacists” and “anti-abortionists” as well, they insist. Wonder why they
don’t include PETA, Gay and Lesbian Activists, some Environmental
nut-cases, and the Society of Professional Journalists on that list? –

Society of Professional Journalists

At its National Convention in Seattle, the Society of Professional
Journalists passed a resolution urging members and fellow journalists to
take steps against racial profiling in their coverage of the war on
terrorism and to reaffirm their commitment to:

– Use language that is informative and not inflammatory;

– Portray Muslims, Arabs and Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans in
the richness of their diverse experiences;

– Seek truth through a variety of voices and perspectives that help
audiences understand the complexities of the events in Pennsylvania, New
York City and Washington, D.C.


– Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds
when photographing Americans mourning those lost in New York, Washington and

– Seek out people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds
when photographing rescue and other public service workers and military

– Do not represent Arab Americans and Muslims as monolithic groups.
Avoid conveying the impression that all Arab Americans and Muslims wear
traditional clothing.

– Use photos and features to demystify veils, turbans and other cultural
articles and customs.


– Seek out and include Arabs and Arab Americans, Muslims, South Asians
and men and women of Middle Eastern descent in all stories about the war,
not just those about Arab and Muslim communities or racial profiling.

– Cover the victims of harassment, murder and other hate crimes as
thoroughly as you cover the victims of overt terrorist attacks.

– Make an extra effort to include olive-complexioned and darker men and
women, Sikhs, Muslims and devout religious people of all types in arts,
business, society columns and all other news and feature coverage, not just
stories about the crisis.

– Seek out experts on military strategies, public safety, diplomacy,
economics and other pertinent topics who run the spectrum of race, class,
gender and geography.

– When writing about terrorism, remember to include white supremacist,
radical anti-abortionists and other groups with a history of such activity.

– Do not imply that kneeling on the floor praying, listening to Arabic
music or reciting from the Quran are peculiar activities.

– When describing Islam, keep in mind there are large populations of
Muslims around the world, including in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, India
and the United States. Distinguish between various Muslim states; do not
lump them together as in constructions such as “the fury of the Muslim

– Avoid using word combinations such as “Islamic terrorist” or “Muslim
extremist” that are misleading because they link whole religions to criminal
activity. Be specific: Alternate choices, depending on context, include “Al
Qaeda terrorists” or, to describe the broad range of groups involved in
Islamic politics, “political Islamists.” Do not use religious
characterizations as shorthand when geographic, political, socioeconomic or
other distinctions might be more accurate.

– Avoid using terms such as “jihad” unless you are certain of their
precise meaning and include the context when they are used in quotations.
The basic meaning of “jihad” is to exert oneself for the good of Islam and
to better oneself.

– Consult the Library of Congress guide for transliteration of Arabic
names and Muslim or Arab words to the Roman alphabet. Use spellings
preferred by the American Muslim Council, including “Muhammad,” “Quran,” and
“Makkah ,” not “Mecca.”

– Regularly seek out a variety of perspectives for your opinion pieces.
Check your coverage against the five Maynard Institute for Journalism
Education fault lines of race and ethnicity, class, geography, gender and

– Ask men and women from within targeted communities to review your
coverage and make suggestions.


– Informational Resources on Arab-Americans, the Arab World and Islam
– The Quran online (1 or 2)
– The South Asian Journalists Association provides a stylebook, sources
and a roundup of coverage for journalists.
– Newswatch is a site dedicated to diversity in journalism, with
commentary on media performance. It is a project of the Center for
Integration and Improvement of Journalism of San Francisco State University
and a collaboration between the Native American Journalists Association, the
National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of
Black Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association and the
National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

Copyright C 1996-2008 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights


3 Responses to Journalists told by the “Society of Professional Journalists” guidelines, which omit terms like “islamic terror” and “jihad”. This is a MUST READ!

  1. yorkielass says:

    The very same applies to European and UK journo’s!
    A positive image of islam and muslim must be aimed for anything negative should be avoided.
    Makes me ask;who’s pockets are being filled by this act of genocide aimed at all non muslims?
    The BBC almost have an orgasm when reporting a white offender but skip over the ethnicity when it’s a muslim.
    Too stupid to realise their skipping gives out all the info we need!
    Islam = peace is the BBC mantra they obviously don’t read history or the BBC is jam packed with muslims.
    At one time we had excellent dramas’ or book reading at the BEEB now it’s best to ignore their efforts at islamic brainwashing sessions.
    Some are complaining as to why so much time is handed over to islam, when they have a BBC
    station of their own and TV channel.
    The BBC accept money from anyone it appears, the EU give them special loans so one assumes that the Saudis do also, paying the hoare for services rendered.

  2. Paul Green says:

    This is worth noting, but it’s actually pretty old news. The Seaatle national convention at which SPJ adopted these guidelines was in the fall of 2001 — when the ashes of 9/11 had barely cooled. They appeared in my newsroom shortly thereafter, but were largely ignored — at least, back then. But the media have become steadily more deferential to Muslims, as witness American papers’ shameful refusal to print any of the Danish Muhammad cartoons when that story was on page one. Only three major ones — the Rocky Mountain News, the Austin American-Statesman and the Philadelphia Inquirer — did so.

  3. Rod says:

    In the UK, the politically correct term to use is “Asian” whenever Muslims (usually of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin) are reported, particularly when a crime has been committed. This is completely unfair to many other communities who are on the whole, law-abiding, such as Indian Sikhs, Nepali Hindus, Sri Lankan Tamils, Chinese, Buddhists etc!

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