Plans by Florida pastor Terry Jones to burn copies of the Koran on September 11 have flared into a media firestorm, with around-the-clock coverage on cable news channels and acres of newsprint dedicated to the story. But many critics are saying that the national media attention has just enabled Jones. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even suggested that journalists quit covering the story "as an act of patriotism." Before the Koran-burning event was suspended, both Fox News and CNN said they would ignore it. If Jones goes ahead with the burning, should the media stay away?
Muslim journalists face the same questions: It's not just the U.S. press that has "given a global platform" to this "fringe pastor," says Justin Elliott at Salon. Pastor Jones' plan has been a "major story in the media in the Muslim world" for over a month, doing "untold damage to America's reputation." That's why Gen. Petraeus spoke out against it, and why it's now too big for the media to ignore.
"How (and why) the media made Terry Jones a star"
It may not deserve to be news, but it is: No doubt this stunt is getting more attention than it merits, says James Poniewozik at Time. But "the story is now making legitimate news." World leaders and military generals are involved, and there is "the prospect of real-world, non-virtual protest and unrest if the burning goes on."
"The media and Islam-o-mania: gasoline for the fire"
Quit handing out the free publicity: Here's a message to my fellow journalists, says Melody Moezzi at The Huffington Post. "Please let this issue go." At this point, "it's as if the media is running advertisements for this pseudo-Christian man and his church." I recognize the irony in writing about this, "but I simply can't remain silent any longer."
"A plea to ignore the ignorant"
We shouldn't ignore, but educate: The question shouldn't be whether the media covers it, says Gloria Goodale at the Christian Science Monitor, but how it covers it. It's the nature of journalism to focus on the "extreme, the unusual and the interesting." But it is our responsibility to "place a person like Jones in proper perspective." Reporting the "context, perspective and history" of this kind of protest should be an essential part of the story.
"Could the media have ignored Terry Jones and his Koran-burning plan?"