Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals
Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
The difficult nature of reporting accurately and objectively on religion, coupled with world events and discrimination against Muslims, motivated a pilot course called "Reporting on Islam." The activity detailed in this article addressed two issues--improving the coverage of religion, specifically Islam, in the news media and using communication technology to encourage critical thinking in the analysis of journalistic routines and news media texts, ultimately producing better news coverage. This type of critical thinking involved having students consider how news media is constructed and the effects news media can have on its consumers. It is important to note that while this course addressed reporting on Muslims and Islam, its basic structure can be applied to the instruction of reporting on any topic. As a way of engaging today's so-called "digital native" students, the instructor used a wiki project to facilitate discussion while also promoting learning in an online environment. A wiki, which is a website that allows individuals to interact through contributions and corrections to material that they originate online, was utilized because of its correlation to the changes in contemporary news media, specifically its shift toward interaction. As media consumers continue to turn online for their news, students ought to feel comfortable engaging with these consumers as well as their journalistic peers in an online environment. Throughout the course of the semester, the wiki allowed students to write and share their suggestions, comment on others' ideas, and edit the compilation of these suggestions to amass a collectively agreed upon list of best practices. This article presents an argument for closer examination of the coverage of Muslims and Islam as well as the students' role in producing better coverage of Muslims and Islam. It then discusses the educational importance of the document resulting from students' wiki interactions. Ultimately, it presents a case study that is applicable toward the facilitation of critical thinking within journalism classes that seeks to produce good reporting on myriad topics. A list of references and suggested readings is included.