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Aidan White

NYlights911For the Media Diversity Institute by Aidan White

Published: 16 September 2011

The report released this week by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations on media coverage of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque provides much evidence that the mix of bias and incompetence over this story went far beyond the newsrooms of the United States to which I referred  last week.

The use of attractive buzz-words and phrases by journalists is a phenomenon the world over and the report highlights how many media fell into the trap of using language that would attract audience, but in the end oversimplified and distorted the truth.

Nevertheless, there is an intriguing question about the timing of the report. It was released three days after September 11, when global coverage of the 10th anniversary commemorations was at a peak. To attract any attention and to squeeze onto the news agenda, this report would have had to be released before the event. This surely would have been the intention of the authors.

In the end it was issued as an afterthought and media, both in the United States and beyond, treated it as such. Perhaps someone thought that for political reasons it should be delayed because it might divert attention from the focus on the terrible loss and suffering of the victims. If so, that’s a pity.

There has been much deceptive handling of the truth by slipshod journalists in the aftermath of 9/11 and this report with its uniquely Manhattan angle on one aspect of the problem is welcome if not exactly on time.

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