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My life as news ombudsman — or Muslim in America?

August 26th · No Comments · Palm Beach Post

Heading out this morning to my latest speaking engagement: the Men’s Club of Abbey Delray South, mostly retired executives and professionals who participate in community activities, do volunteer work and  have been meeting weekly for 26 years. My host told me, “I believe the topic of greatest interest to the Men’s Club would be the role of the ombudsman at a newspaper and your experiences at the Palm Beach Post. In addition, perhaps  you can discuss the Organization of News Ombudsmen and the meeting in Baku.” Hmmmm. Now why do I think most of the questions and discussion will be about the Cordoba Initiative’s Islamic Cultural Center in Manhattan and the book-burning pastor in Gainesville?

In any event, I’ll be happy to share what I‘ve been saying here for a while: New York’s is a media story as much as anything. And it’s a shame that the best take I’ve seen on it has consistently been coming not from our mainstream news media, but from Jon Stewart of The Daily Show (see herehere, here and here).

As all too often happens, our supposedly fair & balanced news folks (I say that leaving aside the farcical Faux News) are cleaning it up their act on this story after the fact of their blatant commission of misinformation. Following weeks of misleading “Mosque at Ground Zero”-ish headlines, for example, The New York Times had this one online yesterday:

Looking at Islamic Center Debate, World Sees U.S.

In addition, that story included this graf about the …er:

In Thailand, which has contended with its own Islamic insurgency, an editorial in The Nation worried aloud that America’s handling of the cultural center (my emphasis) would affect relations worldwide between Muslims and non-Muslims. “If the era of former President George W. Bush tells us anything, it is that how the U.S. deals with the Muslim world affects us all,” the editorial said.

Well, better late than never to truly inform the U.S. public, right? Anyway, from the Mens Club it’s on to a meeting of the executive committee of our Delray Beach Interfaith Clergy Association. Then to catch up with my dear darling daughter. In between, more of the freelance writing that helps pay the bills. As my friend Rabbi Nason Goldstein likes to say: Make it a great day.

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