If I said I liked 100 percent of all the sessions at ACP, then I’d be lying. The session I disliked was the “Hijabs, Crosses, and How Not to Mess Up Stories About People Who Wear Them,” presented by Michael Longinow and Michael Chute, two cis-gendered white faculty males and both from Christian universities. I got nothing out of it.
I went to the session because I wanted to learn how to report on people of faith because I may get assigned a story on religion someday. I was hoping that this session could teach me how to report in a manner that would help tell their story in the best way possible, but that did not happen.
At the session, Longinow said that those who seek out news tend to be very involved in the community, which I thought was a no-brainer. However, when Longinow said that “the well-educated and the wealthiest tend to seek out news daily,” I felt uneasy because that is not necessarily true. All kinds of people seek out news daily.
According to the speakers, there is mistrust of factuality in journalism when it comes to people of faith. That is understandable as religion is a very difficult and sensitive topic to cover, but the speakers did not teach us “how not to mess up” articles on people of faith. How can we have people trust the factuality in our articles regarding religion if we don’t know how to?
Longinow said to a female student who was wearing a hijab, “Oh! You’re the one I’ve been waiting for.” He tokenized her as she was the only one with a hijab in the room. She does not represent all Muslims.
It also doesn’t help that one of the speakers was from Biola University, which has a history of having homophobic professors who shame queer students with slurs and tolerate bullying in the classroom, referenced by this Huffington Post article.
Also, in the event summary, the speakers said they would talk about the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. Unfortunately, the speakers didn’t. I thought it was a very important topic to talk about. Many people have misinterpreted it as an issue of protecting the freedom of speech rather than how Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons offended many Muslims. I was hoping they would talk about the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, how it was reported and what the news outlets could have done better.
The session could have gone better if they actually taught us how to cover religion and people of faith instead of just giving us examples of how other schools did it. Also, I wish Longinow had kept his other commentaries to himself, like the one on how he’d be mad over a parking space too when talking about the murder of three Muslim students at UNC Chapel Hill. What he could have done was acknowledge how unjust the murders are and how it could have been better reported. Since 9/11, the articles written about Muslims are reported horribly as the media tends to interchangeably use the term “terrorist” with “Muslim” and portrays Islam as promoting violence, which is highly offensive.
Despite this, however, ACP was an amazing experience as everyone on staff got along, the whole experience went smoothly, and I learned a lot that I can apply to my future articles. If I hadn’t gone to this session or if this session went as well as I had thought it would, then it would have been perfect. At least I know now what not to do at a session, whether that’d be ACP or something related.