News / Africa

Quran Controversy: How Much Media Coverage is Enough?

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The story of a Florida preacher threatening to burn copies of the Quran has spread rapidly around the world through the media and the Internet.

Reverend Terry Jones, whose congregation at the Dove World Outreach Center numbers only about 50 people, is now internationally recognized as the man who wants to set fire to copies of Islam’s holy book.  The burning is scheduled for Saturday, the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Should be covered, but….

Media and Internet coverage of the story has been constant in the United States and abroad.  But have the media done a good job of covering the controversy or have they gone beyond what is reasonable or necessary?

“I believe it’s a story that needs to be covered.  Does it need to be covered to the extent of which it has?  I would say not,” says Kevin Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Smith says there’s a fine line between informing the public and over-saturating a news cycle.

“This is one of the cases where we see what I think is an overplay of the story by the media.  But no one wants to be the media outlet that doesn’t have the story.  And that just contributes to the deluge of information or the coverage of the story.”

Fierce competition


Smith says the media are feeling the pressure of the speed and popularity of the Internet. They feel compelled to cover a story that’s big on the web.

“I think that’s absolutely true.  I think before that, before even the Internet, the media were susceptible to their competition.  If somebody had a story, you did not want to be the one, the only one, who didn’t have the story.  And so the competition kept the story alive to some degree,” he says.

 

The competition has grown and taken new forms.

“Now, you have the Internet.  And you have bloggers and…citizen journalists and amateurs, who are out there just providing information.  And it just exacerbates the situation.  Now you’re not competing against the morning newspaper, the afternoon TV.  You’re competing against a multitude of individuals who are disseminating information about this, including people who might be members of that church,” he says.

Has the pressure to cover certain stories and the need to get the news out fast affected journalistic ethics or responsibility?

Smith says, “I personally have turned the TV off with regards to this story because for the last four days I haven’t heard anything new.  And what I have been told has been repeated over and over again, which is symptomatic of not having any new information.”

He says the story has played itself out.

“The media has in essence helped this guy gain the attention that he needs.  But you don’t want to be the one who stops covering it for fear that something new might come up,” he says.

While he believes the story needed to be reported, he adds, “The media need to be a little more judicious in about how they cover things.  You do get to the situation where your coverage contributes to the overall mission or goal of the person that’s seeking the publicity.”

Smith relates the story of a local media host who has decided he will no longer talk about the Quran story because he refuses to give Jones any more publicity.

“That’s a rare approach to take in the media.  And he’s decided that he can live without the story and so can his listeners,” he says.

He says another story in which he believes the media went too far in coverage was golfer Tiger Woods and his extramarital affairs.

“We were inundated as a public with all of the details about Tiger Woods and his divorce and how it was affecting his golf game.  And for weeks and then months, it seemed to be the only thing that the media could fixate on.  And quite honestly, that was overkill,” he says.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs