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Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly

by Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly
Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly

Over the past two years, you helped journalists and other media professionals cover Muslims confidently, creatively, and accurately through your support to ISPU’s Helping Journalists Cover American Muslims Fairly project. In so doing, you added expert voices to stories that reported sensitively on religious-based bullying in schools, you informed much needed conversations about ideologically motivated violence in the wake of Christchurch, you helped diversify voices in the media and so much more. In short, by equipping journalists with rigorous research and expert scholar sources, you turned facts into fuel for positive change.

One journalist based on the West Coast who used ISPU data in a recent article told us, “While covering bullying of Muslim children in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was very helpful to have the results of a nationwide survey like ISPU’s to refer to, as well as to speak with Dr. [Nadia] Ansary to talk about what those numbers mean and how schools can do more to tackle the issue. It seems that there’s not a lot of data available on the bullying of Muslim children, in particular, across the country, and other sources I reached out to also referred me to the ISPU survey as a good source of information on the issue.” Because of your investment in ISPU, we can work directly with journalists like this one, who uses both our data and our expert scholars in their work. 

While we will continue to engage and provide workshops for journalists, we are removing the project from GlobalGiving to make room for other ISPU projects. But the workshops you made possible will live on and continue to make positive change for many years through the excellent work of the journalists we served. In 2018, 1 billion readers saw a news article referencing ISPU’s research. That is 1 billion more accurately informed readers! Readers who vote. Readers to interact with Muslims as their colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Readers who can make a difference in the world.

I hope that you will stay engaged with ISPU and there are many ways to do that. First, keep a look out for future ISPU projects shared on Global Giving. Second, follow this and other work by signing up for updates at Or, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Last, turn more facts into fuel by sharing our Journalist Toolkit with a reporter or editor in your network. 

We sincerely thank you for being our partners, friends, and supporters!

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Reporting on American Muslims and the issues that impact upon them, and indeed upon all Americans, has never been more challenging, timely, or important. A year ago, you entrusted us by investing in sound journalism. And we have been hard at work doing just that.

In June, ISPU conducted a workshop that concluded the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s Beyond Religion conference. The conference brought together hundreds of seasoned journalists covering issues all over the world. Our two-hour workshop helped nearly 100 journalists cover American Muslim communities more confidently, creatively and accurately. 

A writer for the Pulitzer Center reported, “The conversation with (ISPU) was a fitting conclusion to a conference that focused on the diverse manifestations, perceptions, and representations of religion around the world...Workshop participants walked away with helpful insights to carry forward as journalists, but also as responsible community members interested in better understanding and uplifting our neighbors.” 

And, just last week, we did it again - providing a workshop at the first annual Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy Conference. During a two-day event that featured prominent Muslim politicians, civic leaders, and trainers, our workshop equipped nearly 100 attendees -- many of them potential candidates for office in future elections who attended to the conference to gain resources and training -- with data-driven, actionable tips for encouraging the media to report more accurately on American Muslims. Since many attendees of this conference weren’t journalists themselves, we tailored the conversation to highlight ways listeners can advocate to journalists in their network for more accurate coverage.

You did this! You made this possible. You are ensuring that you, your family and friends, and indeed all Americans are able to access news coverage that portrays American Muslims confidently, creatively, and most importantly, accurately. Thank you and wishing you all a wonderful summer.

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The Muslim Ban. Christ Church. State level Anti-Muslim legislation. Reporting on American Muslim communities and the issues that impact them has never been more challenging. That is why, your partnership has been vital!  

On March 18, ISPU brought together nearly 25 journalists for a full day of learning about covering American Muslims creatively and confidently. We paired journalists with scholars for a full day of interactive presentations and activities, including a wealth of information on demographics, sharia, gender, race, and ideologically motivated violence. Participants represented a variety of outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, ProPublica Illinois, and WBEZ Chicago public radio, and some even traveled from Wisconsin and Indiana to attend. Each participating journalist received a copy of our toolkit for journalists. “I left the workshop more informed and more conscientious of my actions, thoughts and work about and with Muslims.” That is how one participant summed up the day. 

Indeed, the workshop is already making a difference. One reporter from Wisconsin Public TV connected with an ISPU scholar who presented that day to create a full news segment on understanding what is and isn't sharia. One newsroom requested additional copies of our toolkit so they could conduct their own in-office training for their full newsroom. A reporting team focused on race and culture at WBEZ, Chicago's NPR affiliate, attended the training as a full group. Can you imagine the change in their coverage now that they have a whole new set of sources and tools?

The impact cascades through newsrooms -- each journalist we reach reaches others in their orbit with thoughtful edits, advice, and guidance. We want coverage of American Muslims to be reflective of who we know they really are -- and trainings like this help us get there. We can't do any of this without you. Thank you for your support!

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Thank you for caring about facts and journalistic integrity. Because of you, ISPU can continue to provide media professionals with the tools they need to accurately, confidently and fairly cover Muslims in America and the issues that impact upon them. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. A recent wave of layoffs at Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Gannett is just the latest in a trend of job losses that mean journalists are being asked to cover more and more… with less resources. We think it’s crucial that shrinking newsroom budgets don’t lead to less or more biased coverage of American Muslims, because studies show that inaccurate media has already negatively influenced the attitudes of everyday Americans toward their Muslim neighbors.

The need for better, more accurate training is great, which is why we’re excited that the day-long workshop for journalists that you have empowered us to implement this March in Chicago is nearly upon us! Participants will receive everything they need to cover American Muslims creatively and confidently, including new angles for when breaking news strikes about violence, definitions for terminology that is often misused, our extensive journalists toolkit, and direct connections with scholars for future stories. They’ll also attend expert-led modules, such as “Shariah: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask” and “An Evidence-Based Look at Covering National Security and Ideologically Motivated Violence.”

In the meantime, as we plan the training, we continue to serve as an important resource for journalists across the country. Recently, we connected with a journalist who turned to us as an expert source while writing a piece about the first Muslim women in Congress for a major national magazine. She found our help so valuable, that she decided to do a profile of ISPU for a journalism trade magazine, so that even more journalists can find and use our vast archive of research and resources.

None of this would have been possible without your visionary and generous support, , so thank you!

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Sarah Harvard, a journalist herself, declared that “ISPU is single-handedly the only solid resource for journalists covering Islam and the American Muslim community.” That is why we are proud to be partnering with you, our partners and supporters, to bring our unique, vital and timely research directly to journalists and other media professionals who work hard every day to make sure that we, the American public, are well informed when it comes to the often talked about American Muslim community.

We have been hard at work planning the training that you have empowered us to replicate in Chicago. In fact, we now have a venue, an expert journalist facilitator, an updated curriculum, and a date in March! And as we set about planning, we remember why we are doing this.  As one participant from the Huffington Post, who attended our first training back in April, said, “The ISPU workshop for journalists was extraordinarily helpful to me as a journalist where I was able to learn and walk away with numerous tangibles.”

And, while the training may have to wait until the spring, we have been hard at work empowering journalists in other ways. Just last month, we launched our Media Toolkit – which is chock full of tips, information, data and recommendations for journalists who cover Muslims and the issues that impact upon Muslim communities in the United States. You can check it out yourself at: As one excited user wrote, What an incredible, incredible resource the ISPU has released – congratulations!  The website is fantastic, informative, and actionable.  It is awesome to see the power of research.”  Indeed it is awesome, because you are awesome for making it possible!


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Organization Information

Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Location: Detroit, MI - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @theispu
Project Leader:
Meira Neggaz
Washington, DC United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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