September 12, 2017

History

Arabs and Muslims have a long history in Journalism

The first conference of Arab journalists was held in 1999 in Chicago at the Radisson Hotel outside of O’Hare Airport.

More than 125 writers, journalists and authors from across the country came together to discuss ways to achieve several simple goals:

  • Encourage young Arabs and Muslims to pursue Journalism as a professional career
  • Confront and end the racism against Arabs and Muslims that dominated the American and Western Mainstream News media
  • Demand that mainstream news media such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times end their discrimination against Arabs and Muslims and open their doors to hire Arabs and Muslims to key journalism positions
  • Confront the discrimination against Arabs and Muslims by journalism organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists and UNITY; Journalists of Color. Like the mainstream news media, these organizations muted the voices of Arabs and Muslims and marginalized their issues and concerns.
  • Support Arab and Muslim journalists and media publications by networking, sharing and building the brotherhood and sisterhood of professionalism in writing, poetry, news reporting, column writing, editorial writing, cartoons, photography and videography.
  • Provide a platform to America’s growing Arab and Muslim media including radio programs, ethnic community newspapers, and cable TV programs.

The conference was a success and proved that American journalism must make room for Arabs and Muslims.

Helen Thomas and Jack Shaheen

Journalists Jack Shaheen, Helen Thomas and Ray Hanania have partnered with journalists around the world to strengthen the voice of objective journalism

The National Arab American Journalist Association was born. NAAJA hosted conferences in 2000 challenging the biased mainstream American news media coverage of Palestine, demanding that journalists stop censoring information that was critical of Israel.

At conferences in 2001 and 2002, NAAJA gave voice to the rising incidents of racism and discrimination against Arabs and Muslims as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Arab and Muslim journalists demanded that the media provide opportunities of Arabs and Muslims to share their stories with the world and confront the racist stereotypes conveyed about Arabs and Muslims in the media’s false and distorted narrative.

“Terrorism does not have an ethnic face” declared NAAJA co-founder Ray Hanania.

2011 Conference Panel

Conferences of Arab and Muslim journalists have strengthened the voice of the Arab and Muslim community and are forcing mainstream journalism to open its doors to objective and fair coverage of the Arabs, Muslims and Middle East.

By 2007, NAAJA expanded its activism to host conferences in Dubai, Amman Jordan, and in Occupied Jerusalem to discuss international coverage. NAAJA opened its doors to membership to journalists of Arab and Muslim heritage around the world.

Arab and Muslim journalists in America were facing the same challenges of Arab and Muslim journalists in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Today, NAAJA has become iNAAJA, the International Arab Journalism Association.

Pioneering journalists like Radio Talkshow Host Laila Alhusinni have opened the doors to the journalism profession to Arab and Muslim women.

We want you to add your voice to this growing movement. We want you to make a difference int he fight for objective, professional and accurate journalism.

The biased perceptions of the mainstream news media here and abroad have wrongly punished Arabs and Muslims. Our voices have been pushed out and marginalized by the mainstream news media. That has fed the racism and bigotry that confronts Arabs and Muslims.

By achieving fairness and objectivity, we are not only giving voice to the justified concerns and activism of Arabs and Muslims, but we are helping to make journalism the truly objective and professional industry that it is meant to be.

Lorraine Ali writes her first major magazine article on being Arab

NAAJA documents the achievements of Arab Journalism including in this feature written by award winning Arab journalist Lorraine Ali