The Power of the Media

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

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On the right of this picture are five helmets provided by the landlord of this house as a safety measure in the event of any earthquakes that may occur, since my family first bought the house. Other than the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is also known as Land of the Earthquakes. The hashtag #PrayForJapan was trending on social media on Friday the 13th, alongside tragedies in Paris, Lebanon, and so on. Therefore, most of us in Japan were busy chilling, decided to check our phones, and were instantly puzzled as to why people were weeping for us.

Yes, there was a 7.0-magnitude earthquake (which isn’t an abnormal occurrence in Japan, I’m sure), but no major damage and no deaths were reported. There was only a warning of a small tsunami, which was lifted afterwards. Alhamdulillah.

See? It was a very unlucky Friday the 13th because social media users wanted it to be so. Kecoh je lebih.

And on the left of the picture is yesterday’s paper I received from the hotel I was staying at in Nikko. Obviously I could barely understand most of it, but the word ‘Islam’ caught my eye. And then I realized it was an article about the Paris attacks, and Islamic State was to blame.

There is just something terribly unsettling about recognizing the word ‘Islam’ on the front page of a foreign newspaper and finding out it is an article about terrorism. Of all the names IS could have chosen, they chose one with the word ‘Islam’ in it, as if representing our religion.

I attended a talk by Dr. Zakir Naik a week ago, and this was what he said:

They call us terrorists. Who was responsible for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the biggest terrorist acts in history? Do not trust the media’s portrayals of Islam. Whatever that is againsy the Qur’an and Sunnah is WRONG. In the Qur’an it mentions that whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind. And whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.

And this is quoted from Adam Hills, Australian comedian and television presenter:

“Seriously, can old white dudes please stop saying s**tty things about Islam? Because every time they do I’m scared all Muslims will think we’re like that which is pretty much how all Muslims feel when a terrorist kills people in the name of Allah. And for those accusing me of defending Islam, and a lot have said that this week, I’m defending common sense. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world right now. 1.6 billion. As someone pointed out on twitter this week, if Islam really bred terror, we’d all be dead right now. The combined forces of Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda makes up 0.003% of the global Muslim population. Less than 2% of all terror attacks are carried out in the name of Islam. You’ve got more of a chance of being killed by a bee sting, a peanut or the NHS.”

Also, the media, as usual, is biased towards certain countries. Everyone knows when the West gets bombed but no one knows when the West does the bombing. Let this illustration by leemarej speak.

I, as a student of communication and media, am devastated. But remember, the media is only a tool, and it is up to its users whether to use it for good or bad. So, all Mass Comm students (and everyone else, for that matter), we should have a burning desire in our hearts to put Islam in the best light possible in the mainstream media, and to spread truth, and to invite others to do good, not to make a big deal about every celebrity’s fifth divorce.

People always ask Mass Comm students, “Nak jadi wartawan ke?”. Bruh, wartawanlah yang mempunyai kuasa untuk mempengaruhi orang ramai! Waktu tingkatan lima, aku belajar tentang peranan besar akhbar, majalah dan novel dalam menggerakkan kesedaran kebangsaan orang Melayu. Melalui media inilah isu-isu sosial dan ekonomi dibangkitkan seperti isu pendidikan tinggi, penambahbaikan taraf hidup, saranan untuk berniaga, kemajuan bahasa dan sastera, sifat malas orang Melayu, dan pendidikan untuk wanita.

Jim Morrison once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”. One day, when we are in the industry (or even now, maybe), we will control the media. We will control whether what is spread to the world is true or false. We will decide what topics will be discussed over rambutans and debated over coffee. We will influence the opinions and actions of society.

If that doesn’t feel like an enormous and terrifying responsibility to you, I don’t know what will.

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