Grab bag! (Part two)

4 Oct

Burnin’ up the media

Early in September, some disturbing news started surfacing in Florida. Terry Jones, a pastor of a small church in Gainesville, was threatening to burn Korans on Sept. 11. He wanted to protest the building of a “mega mosque” near Ground Zero (Note: It’s a cultural center six blocks away) and bring attention to the “radical” elements of Islam. (Ironic?)

After his 15 minutes in the spotlight, Jones announced he would not be burning Korans after all and has since faded back into obscurity.

This post isn’t about Jones and his plans. (For the record, I think they were driven by hatred and ignorance but also protected by our nation’s first amendment.) It’s about how the media took an event planned by the leader of a 50-member church and turned it into headline news.

Apparently these lovely Kansans burned some instead. Oddly, I didn't hear much about that.

Do I think that this proposed event deserved coverage? I guess so. Part of me wanted to urge the media to simply not spread Jones’ message by refusing to cover it. But that gets into some tricky territory. Is it our job to deny coverage of events in order to protect our citizens? What’s protection and what’s censorship? It’s a thin line.

I don’t think we should flat-out not cover events. But I do think we should revisit how we cover events. Jones runs a church with 50 members. Fifty people! Coverage should reflect the scope of the event. In this case, maybe a short article by The Gainesville Sun. That’s it. If readers wanted to make a bigger deal out of it on the blogosphere, etc. that would’ve been their decision.

The circus that surrounded this controversy was inappropriate and unnecessary. It strained already tense relations between religions and countries. That seems more harmful to me in some aspects than Jones  burning Korans in the parking lot of his church.

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