Resources for Covering Islam and Muslims in America

Categories: Diversity, Islam, Muslims
How do U.S. journalists remain accurate and balanced in their coverage of the Muslim community in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which changed the way Islam is viewed by the public? Use the resource on this page to learn about Islam and the role it plays as a religion and a cultural influence.

These resources are part of a Specialized Reporting Institute on "Covering Islam in the Bible Belt," Aug. 21-23, 2011, at Middle Tennessee State University's School of Journalism. The workshop was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

What Others are Doing

Groundbreaking and informative stories and opinion pieces, including those from conference presenters and participants.

Anti-Islam group finds fertile ground in Nashville Bob Smietana, The Tennessean, July 10, 2011

Anti-Muslim Crusaders Make Millions Spreading Fear Bob Smietana, The Tennessean, Oct. 24, 2010

Anger and Fear Remain Test of Faith Bob Smietana, The Tennessean, Sept. 12, 2011

9/11 Journey: One Christian's Exploration of Islam Kay Campbell, The Huntsville (Ala.) Times, Sept. 8, 2011

The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement Andrea Elliott, New York Times, July 30, 2011

Diversity in Mayfield Plays Out in Many Ways Peter Smith, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, Sept. 16, 2011

Muslims Connecting in Post-9/11 America Peter Smith, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, Sept. 11, 2011

Sr. Ilia Delio and the Intersection of Science and Religion Joshunda Sanders, The Austin (Texas) Statesman, Sept. 27, 2011

In the Decade Since Sept.11, Reflections on Faith Joshunda Sanders, The Austin (Texas) Statesman, Sept. 9, 2011

After a Month of Fasting, Decadent Dishes for Area Muslims Joshunda Sanders, The Austin (Texas) Statesman, Aug. 30, 2011

Daniels Hosts Indiana’s Muslims During Ramadan Maureen Hayden, The (Terre Haute, Ind.) Tribune-Star, Aug. 27, 2011

American Muslims Seeing Positive Signs 10 Years After 9/11 Attacks Maureen Hayden, The (Terre Haute, Ind.) Tribune-Star, Sept. 6, 2011

What Others Are Saying

Op-chart: Inside the Muslim (Journalist’s) Mind Lawrence Pintak and Syed Javed Nazir, The New York Times op-ed page, Feb. 12, 2011

Fair to Muslims? Akbar Ahmed, New York Times op-ed, March 8, 2011

Drawing U.S. Crowds With Anti-Islam Message Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, March 7, 2011

Not Welcome, a promo version of an upcoming documentary by Murfreesboro filmmaker Eric Bell Eric Allen Bell, June, 2011

Key Resources

Religion Link: Islam Archive, and Guide to U.S. Experts and Organizations

A roundup of resources for covering the growing Muslim population in the U.S. gathered by the Religion Newswriters Association. The Religion Newswriters Association site also features FAQs on religion reporting, a style guide and a roster of religion-related sites.

Islam: Reporting in Context and With Complexity

This collection of articles exploring the challenges journalists encounter covering Islam in the wake of 9/1 was gathered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

Islam at a Glance

An overview of Islam from the BBC website.

Fighting Words: How Arab and American Journalists Can Break Through to Better Coverage

A handbook published by the International Center for Journalists that explores the ways the U.S. and Arab media sometimes stumble into semantic and other dilemmas. It is a good resource to consider how to choose topics, phrase questions and tell stories.

Post-9/11 Arab Americans Tell Their Stories in AAJA Project

This story, written by conference presenter Joe Grimm for the Freedom Forum's Diversity Institute, details The Living Textbook, a demonstration project proposed by Dinah Eng, founding director of the Asian American Journalists Association’s Executive Leadership Program and a columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. The idea is to help students learn about journalism and to post their stories, photos and videos online.

Uncovering Media Bias: The "Ground Zero Mosque" Case Study

This study, done by the International Center on Media & Public Affairs (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the Gabinete de Comunicación y Educación at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain, analyzes how major news outlets around the world covered the story of the Park 51/Ground Zero mosque story over a six-month period, from May-October 2010.

Islam, Muslims, and Journalism Education (IMAJE)

This project of Michigan State University’s Muslim Studies Program has been created as a tool for providing journalists with a nuanced perspective on Islam, Muslims and Muslim society.

Islamopedia Online

Islamopedia Online aims to provide access to news and background information on Islam and Muslim countries that is largely unavailable in Western media due to language barriers or a lack of familiarity with the nations and people involved. The project is supported by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard University.

Oxford Islamic Studies Online

Reference content and commentary in areas such as global Islamic history, concepts, people, practices, politics and culture. Registration is required for some articles and site access.

The Islam Project

This multimedia effort aimed at schools, communities and individuals who want a clearer understanding of Islam, with funding provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York, The James Irvine Foundation, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the Hasan Family Foundation.

Islam, A Short History

This free e-book, part of the Modern Library Chronicles collection, was written by Karen Armstrong, a former nun who lives in London. Considered one of the world's foremost scholars on religious affairs, she is the author of several bestselling books, including The Battle for God. High school and college educators may obtain free printed copies of the book by writing to Random House High School Academic Marketing, MD 11-1,280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017.

Best Practices for Reporting on Islam

This syllabus for a Michigan State University journalism class is full of links and lists of suggested reading material.

Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

This in-depth investigation by the Center for American Progress Action Fund names seven charitable groups it claimed had spent almost $43 million financing anti-Muslim campaigns.

Polls and Studies

Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism

Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism, and majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both in the U.S. and internationally, according to this Pew Research Center survey, Aug. 30, 2011.

Muslim Americans Identify With God and Country

A Gallup study on Muslim Americans highlights strong identification with U.S. and their faith, released Aug. 3, 2011.

Healing the Nation: The Arab American Experience After September 11 (PDF)

A Zogby International survey for the Arab American Institute Foundation, 2002.

What It Means to be American: Attitudes Towards Increasing Diversity in America 10 Years after 9/11

This 2011 poll, taken by the Public Religion Research Institute, finds Americans’ views of Muslims and Islam are mixed. While a majority of Americans (54 percent) agree that Muslims are an important part of the U.S. religious community, Americans are evenly divided over whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. CNN's coverage of this survey is at


Covering Islam in America

This NewsU course is designed to give you a broad explanation of the religious, social, political and geographical facts about Islam today. It provides the essential information you need to humanize, analyze and put news about Islam and Muslim communities into context. The two primary instructors, Lawrence Pintak and Stephen Franklin, spent years as journalists covering the Islamic world. This self-directed module is part of the project Islam for Journalists, funded by the Social Science Research Council with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Islam for Journalists: A Crash Course for Reporters

You don’t have to be an expert on Islam to report about Muslims in your backyard, any more than you need to have an MBA to report about local unemployment issues. Led by veteran CBS News Middle East correspondent Lawrence Pintak, now founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, and former Chicago Tribune Middle East correspondent Stephen Franklin, this project brings together a dozen of the nation’s leading experts on Islam to present an overview of American Muslims, their religion and their culture. The project is funded by the Social Science Research Council with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Religion, Culture and Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches

In this self-directed NewsU course, you'll see how religion touches stories about politics, ethics, science, sexuality and more. You'll get help to dig deeper into a story and resources to get specific answers to your questions about religions and religious movements.

Covering Islam and Muslims in America

A variety of resources collected at a Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism seminar on improving coverage of Islam in the U.S.