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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
6 | PaNPa bUlletiN april 2006 Muslim media guide lauched A new media guide has been launched in Australia to help achieve more balanced reporting of issues relating to Muslims. Published as a booklet by Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria (IWWCV), the guide includes extensive background information on the Islamic faith and associated customs. The booklet also lists contact details for members of the Muslim com- munity. Shortcomings in Muslim-re- lated media coverage in Australia were criticised by several speakers at the launch of the guide which, in a section devoted to the issue, says media representation of Arab and Muslim communities "has long been of concern and a source of much distress among Australian Muslims." "It is clear some media outlets and journalists have portrayed Muslims accurately and sensitive- ly; it is also clear the great majority of Muslims feel that the represen- tations have been problematic." The section also identifies 'a mistrust' of the bodies which regulate the media and mentions specifically the Australian Press Council and Australian Broad- casting Authority. The manager of the IWWCW, Joumanah El Matrah, a co-author of the guide, said the impetus for creating it was the Muslim com- munity's concern at their negative representation in the media. But she said it also recognised that it was difficult for journalists as out- siders to identify representative spokesmen for the community. "At the moment, the vast ma- jority of Australians see Muslims with a propensity toward extrem- ism, towards isolation, with an unwillingness to integrate," Ms El Matrah said. The booklet, Media Guide: Is- lam and Muslims in Australia is available on the IWWCV website: www.vicnet.net.au-iwwcv or from the IWWCV. both APN New Zealand and Fairfax New Zealand has instigated new proce- dures for journalists following the Manukia scandal. APN's Herald on Sunday sacked journalist John Manukia last Octo- ber for allegedly fabricating a sto- ry about a South Auckland police officer. Manukia wrote two stories about an interview that never took place, and then provided his news editor with a false transcript of quotes from the purported in- terview and provided false dates, times and locations. Manukia's offence came to light when legal counsel for former South Auckland police officer An- thony Solomona came forward and said his client had never spo- ken with Manukia. After investi- gation, an apology and retraction were printed, compensation paid and Manukia's contract was ter- minated. An internal review of Manu- kia's work at the Herald on Sunday found a small number of stories quoted named people the news- paper has been unable to find or identify. Editor Shayne Currie told the PANPA Bulletin, "Following our internal inquiries, it became clear that the fact-checking procedures in place here are robust (and the same as virtually every other newspaper in the world). "The reporter, Mr Manukia, actually invented notes and tran- scripts of interviews. It was an extraordinary act of fabrication. Procedures have, however been tightened in regards to the refer- ence checking of editorial candi- dates." When Manukia applied to join the Herald on Sunday he was an experienced reporter and had previously worked on APN's Auckland-based daily flagship, The New Zealand Herald, which gave him a positive reference, said Currie. For commercial and com- petitive reasons Manukia's then employer, the rival Fairfax New Zealand, was not approached. Currie said, "We relied instead on a number of people who had worked with him previously." At the time the reporter's de- ceit was discovered Currie com- mented on the possibility of 'other agencies' being called in. Currie now says that has not been done at this stage. "Regrettably, Mr Manukia has chosen not to help us with our in- quiries," Currie said. He believes that this was an extraordinary case and the quick and very public reaction should ensure no other journalists would be silly enough to trying anything like it. Manukia's former employer, Fairfax New Zealand also under- took an investigation, reviewing a random sample of work Manukia completed during his two years working for Fairfax's New Zealand Truth and Sunday News between 2001 and 2003. The investigation of stories from this period found 12 articles from the sample could not be verified in whole or part. Some could not be substantiated at all. Others contained quotes from people whose existence could not be confirmed. Some contained quotes from people who confirmed they had said such things but not to Manukia or to the Sunday News. One arti- cle contained quotes from a man who denied he had spoken to a reporter on the topic. Manukia failed to take up the company's invitation to respond to the finding of discrepancies in those 12 random articles, accord- ing to Peter O'Hara, Fairfax New Zealand's editor-in-chief. O'Hara said these results justi- fied the company's decision to investigate. However, he said that the company believed what had happened in this case was an ab- erration and the overwhelming majority of staff was hard working and ethical. Areas identifed as causing concern included: > a constant association between Islam, Muslims and confict/violence, particularly since the September 11 attack on the united States > frequent identifcation of race/religion when the story is about individuals of the Islamic faith. In many instances the references were not relevant to the story and ran counter to the journalists' code of conduct > Stereotypical representation of Muslims, using images of Muslim women generally depicting them as veiled, although a signifcant number of Muslim women do not use any form of veiling. Similarly, Muslim men are regularly portrayed as bearded when the majority are not > the diversity of Muslim life is not adequately represented, including issues of sectarian and ethnic diversity > Inaccurate reporting. numerous instances in which communities have been frustrated by the information or misrepresentation of issues associated with them. Some instances have been minor, others quite signifcant NZ publishers react to Manukia scandal When John Manukia’s subterfuge was discovered last year, new Zealands big two publishers investigate how it could have happened. Warren Page reports on the fndings.